The Chief Executive of the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has written to Network Rail to ask if enough is being done to reduce the risk of accidents caused from trains passing red signals.
Mark Phillips has written to Network Rail’s managing directors, as well as to train and freight operating companies because of the fact that new research shows that the risk from signal passed at danger (SPADs) is at its highest level since September 2014.
Data has revealed that, in the last 12 months, 10 trains have passed red signals and reached what is known as the conflict point – the position on the track where a collision could theoretically take place.
This is much higher than the five-year average of between four and five, whilst the total for the last financial year was seven, meaning the danger has increased significantly since then.
These figures are a huge disappointment to the rail industry given that in the last two decades, the number of red signals passed has been reduced by more than 90%; Britain has worked hard to ensure it has the safest railways in Europe.
Collaborations across the rail industry have contributed to this, as has research which has resulted in better engineering solutions and a new understanding of the things that affect how people undertake their roles.
But the latest figures highlight the threat of complacency and as such, the RSSB’s Chief Executive has asked the Board’s members whether enough is being done to address the threat of SPADs.
He said: “It’s part of our role to be the railway’s critical friend, and provide our members with an independent assessment of the risk they’re facing.
“The 20th anniversary of Ladbroke Grove is a timely reminder of what can go wrong if we don’t keep our eyes on the ball.
“We need to look at current train protection technology and industry initiatives and ask whether enough is being done.”
This is key to ensuring safety in the country’s transport industry.