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Who Leads on Rail Safety?

Britain’s railways are made up of many companies and organisations that all contribute to the safety of the whole system. There is no single organisation which leads on this. Safety is a collective responsibility, delivered through effective collaboration arrangements. Here we explain the responsibilities of the different players involved.

It’s easiest if we start by thinking about the people who benefit from the railways: the passengers and freight shippers that rely on trains getting from A to B. They will use passenger and freight train operating companies (known as railway undertakings) who operate the trains.

Railway undertakings rely on infrastructure managers to provide them with the track and stations to run the trains on. Manufacturers and rolling stock owners build and supply the trains, which the train operators buy or lease from the rolling stock owners. All of this is supported by a huge supply chain of maintainers, plant and component manufacturers and suppliers, assessment bodies, consultants, and specialists. 

Each of these players has its own specific safety responsibilities, but they also need to collaborate effectively to ensure a safe railway system is maintained. 

Supporting them is a range of other industry bodies and organisations including: RSSB, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

RSSB

RSSB is a membership-based rail industry body designed to help the railway become safer and more sustainable. RSSB’s work helps to reduce risk and cost for passengers, the workforce and the wider public. It enables and informs safety leadership, and:

Office of Rail and Road (ORR)

The ORR is the health and safety regulator and enforcement authority for the railway. Its role is to make sure that the health and safety of everyone associated with the rail industry is protected. ORR’s contribution to safety leadership is to supervise and enforce. It:

  • certifies and authorises safety certificates (needed to operate on the mainline railway)
  • supervises industry safety management systems
  • advises on legislative requirements
  • develops, monitors, and reinforces the regulatory framework.

For further information visit the ORR website

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)

Carries out independent investigation of railway accidents. As a result it: 

  • enables lessons to be learned to improve safety on the railway
  • makes recommendations for railway duty holders and other railway organisations, including RSSB.

The ORR ensures that RAIB recommendations are implemented. 

For further information visit the RAIB website

Rail Delivery Group (RDG)

RDG is an industry leadership body that embraces the passenger train operator and freight train operator groups, and Network Rail. RDG aligns and coordinates its members to lead on safety effectively. It supports:

  • passenger and freight operators to meet their LHSBR collaboration arrangements
  • safety leadership across the industry to implement its safety strategy.

For further information visit the RDG website

Resources

Rail safety diagram
Rail Safety Leadership document
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Get in touch with our expert for more information
Ann Mills
Tel: 020 3142 5613
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