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July 21, 2015

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Record low in train fatalities for eighth year in a row


railway-835910_640There have been no passenger or workforce fatalities in train accidents on the British railway for the longest sustained period on record, according to annual figures released today (Tuesday) by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB).

The rail industry improved safety performance in 2014/15 against a backdrop of increased passenger numbers and record levels of investment, for the eighth year in a row.

RSSB’s director of system safety, George Bearfield said, “While we are pleased to be reporting some positive figures today, no one in the rail industry is complacent about safety and there remain areas of concern that we will be working with the industry to address. However, rail remains one of the safest forms of transport. The reports being released today are part of the robust evidence base that the industry uses to develop and drive targeted safety improvements”.

In 2014/15 the number of passenger journeys rose by 4 per cent to 1.66 billion, yet the last fatality in a train accident occurred in February 2007 when a passenger train derailed in Cumbria. RSSB’s Annual Safety Performance Report (ASPR) also revealed that, for the second year running, there were no passenger train derailments which is also the longest sustained period on record.

Other key statistics in the report include:

  • Thirty nine people were fatally injured in accidents connected to the railway during the report year:
    • Three passengers and one member of the public died in accidents at stations
    • Ten members of the public died in accidents at level crossings; two were drivers whose vehicles were involved in collisions with trains
    • Two members of the workforce were fatally injured in road traffic accidents and one worker died in an accident in a train depot
    • Twenty-two people were fatally injured while trespassing on the railway, the same number as in 2013/14
  • Taking into account the growth in passenger journeys, there was a 6% increase in the number of passenger and public assaults. This is the first increase in rate since 2008/09. Assaults in station and train locations both increased.
  • At 293, the number of suicides or suspected suicides increased by 15 on the previous year.

“The rail industry takes the issue of suicide very seriously. RSSB is part of a cross-industry National Suicide Prevention Group which has been set up to tackle the issue of railway suicide and is supported by the Samaritans. Local Samaritans branches also work with station managers, station staff from both Train Operating Companies and Network Rail and the British Transport Police, in prevention and post-incident support work”, George commented.

Alongside the ASPR, RSSB is also today publishing the Learning from Operational Experience Annual Report (LOEAR) which provides learning information for the rail industry based on investigating specific events and through the regular monitoring of rail safety trends. A full version of the LOEAR, the ASPR, its executive summary and a Key Facts and Figures document are available from the RSSB website.

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