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Mixed rail safety news as UK accident & fatality figures released.

Posted by SmartRail World Staff on Jul 22, 2015

Grayrigg Derailment (Laurence Clift)"The reports being released today are part of the robust evidence base that the industry uses to develop and drive targeted safety improvements”

Newly released figures paint a mixed picture for rail safety in the UK. For a record eighth year in a row there have been no passenger or workforce fatalities in train accidents on the British railway, according to annual figures released today by rail safety experts, RSSB. This is the longest sustained period on record and this 2014/15 period is against a backdrop of increased passenger numbers and record levels of investment. However if suicides involving the rail network along with, trespass and level crossing accidents are taken into consideration the number of deaths on the UK rail network reached an all-time high of 332 last year.

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 are still areas to improve further 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% to 1.66 billion, yet the last fatality in a train accident occurred in February 2007 when a passenger train derailed in Grayrigg,Cumbria (pictured above) derailed killing Margaret Masson, 84, and injuring 86 people. 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:

o   Three passengers and one member of the public died in accidents at stations

o   Ten members of the public died in accidents at level crossings; two were drivers whose vehicles were involved in collisions with trains

o   Two members of the workforce were fatally injured in road traffic accidents and one worker died in an accident in a train depot

o   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.

Over the past 10 years, there has been an average of 240 suicides per year on the railway, although that number has been increasing in recent years. 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.

The full report can be read here: RSSB Annual Safety Performance Report 2015,

Grayrigg Derailment Photo courtesy of:


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