Who Leads on Rail Safety?
The safety of the railways 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).
Rail Industry Bodies and Organisations
RSSB was set up to fulfil a recommendation by Lord Cullen in his Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry report, following an accident in 1999. RSSB is a not-for-profit company owned by major industry stakeholders (our members). Our constitution is such that no one commercial interest can influence our work for its own benefit.
RSSB supports the railway become safer and more sustainable by providing clear and honest advice based on assessment of the data, analysis, research and findings that we produce.
RSSB helps the industry work together to address issues of common concern, so that we all benefit from better safety, sustainability and service, and reduced cost and risk. As a result our collective efforts help to reduce risk and cost for passengers, the workforce and the wider public.
It enables and informs safety leadership, and:
- assesses whole system risk
- provides tools, guidance, standards, analysis, and research
- oversees industry delivery of, and informs on progress against, its health and safety strategy - Leading Health and Safety on Britain's Railway (LHSBR)
- facilitates industry's safety collaboration arrangements
- advises on good safety management.
Office of Rail and Road
The Office of Rail and Road (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
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 Rail Accident Investigation Branch (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