Warmer weather and the ongoing vaccine rollout mean more people are likely to be using the railway. As freedoms to travel return, the railway will be looking forward to enabling people to meet loved ones, travel for shopping, business, sight-seeing and more.

Changes to the timetable will enable more trains to run, and rail companies have been working hard to ensure passengers can travel safely, and with confidence. 

More trains and more people travelling can re-introduce risks that the railway is familiar with, but may not have experienced for some time. It can also introduce new risks along with the challenge of managing the increase in passengers with the government requirements for social distancing, face coverings and the potential of future virus outbreaks.

RSSB is part of the Joint Executive Oversight Team (JEOT), which has been coordinating the railway’s approach to Covid-19 since the pandemic began. JEOT asked RSSB to run risk workshops to explore:

  • staff and passenger risks that may arise from the increase in passengers
  • controls in place to mitigate risk
  • areas of concern and improvement
  • industry recommendations for current and future planning.

The workshops, held in March and May 2021 were attended by representatives from the following organisations: RSSB, ORR, RDG, LNER, GTR, Abellio Group, Network Rail and TPE. 

The reports produced provide recommendations so industry can enhance the safe management of increased patronage on the railway.

If you are a duty holder – in particular, an infrastructure manager or train operating company – and have responsibility for passenger and staff safety, you should read these reports.

The March 2021 workshop explored staff and passenger risks, controls and approaches in place to manage these risks, areas of concern or improvement and recommendations to industry. These topics are covered in the ‘Increase patronage on the railway’ report.

The May 2021 workshop explored passenger, public and staff risks that have been identified, control measures that have been put in place, and lessons learnt that can be shared across industry. These topics are covered in the ‘Operational learning as rail patronage increases’ report.

The August workshop explored the impact of most Covid-19 restrictions after they were lifted on July 19. These included the continued increase in patronage; the impacts on station operations and both passenger and freight services; along with potential increases in suicide and trespass.

These topics are covered in the ‘Operational learning as rail patronage increases’ August 2021 report.