Health and safety for those employed on the rail network is about to improve further through a £70 million fund dedicated to a new safety task force.
The aim of this investment from Network Rail is to focus on improving track worker safety, incorporating the various strands of work throughout the company, ultimately improving safety for all employees who work along the railway.
Although previous reports have revealed Britain’s railways are the safest of the EU’s top 10 biggest railways, key risks still have to be addressed.
Indeed, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) – responsible for regulating and monitoring Network Rail’s performance – has recently signalled its concern in terms of safety by issuing two improvement notices that aim to get Network Rail to do more to improve track worker safety.
The new safety task force will go some way to making inroads in this respect.
Martin Frobisher, group safety, technical and engineering director at Network Rail, said: “We will make it safer to work on or near the railway than it is today.
“Everyone should expect to get home safe, every day, and while our track record has been good and improving, there are still too many close calls and that will be addressed.
“We have been working with the ORR and our trade unions for many months to help us make working on the railway safer. Like our regulator, we want to see speedier progress.”
Mr Frobisher is heading up this new safety task force and its multiple programmes are working to improve track worker safety.
This includes a safer trackside working programme, which involves designing and developing new protection and warning systems, using digital technology to warn workers of approaching trains.
Elsewhere, there will be a fatigue improvement programme; medical standards project; and mental wellbeing and resilience project – in addition to a number of other programmes that will improve workers’ safety.