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Broken Rail Report commissioned by Rail Regulator and HSE shows way forward

HSE/ORR : Thursday November 9, 2000

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) have today published an independent report on broken and defective rails which includes an assessment of Railtrack's plans for dealing with them.

The Transportation Technology Centre Inc (TTCI) report remarks on the acceptance in Britain of relatively high levels of broken rails compared with other countries and urges Railtrack to put into place a more robust and thorough system for improvement.

The HSE and ORR consider that Railtrack must urgently examine and develop improvements, particularly in respect of:

  • how rails are inspected and tested for defects, and in particular the extent, frequency and methods of ultrasonic testing;
  • how rail defects can be better identified and recorded;
  • how identified rail defects can be better managed
  • and its own guidelines and standards for dealing with defects that are identified within rails. Total numbers of defects in track should be reduced. The TTCI report has been made available to the team investigating the derailment at Hatfield.

Vic Coleman, Chief Inspector of Railways, said: "HSE welcomes this report as it provides useful and comprehensive information on broken rails. We will carry on working closely with the Rail Regulator in continuing to develop a strategy for reducing and managing broken rails on the network. HSE will also monitor carefully Railtrack's proposals against their duties as infrastructure controller under health and safety legislation."

Tom Winsor, Rail Regulator, commented: This is a balanced and constructive report that should be welcomed by all parties. We will be studying it carefully. Railtrack has been taking many of the actions necessary to reduce the number of broken rails and already has in hand a number of the recommendations made in this report. The report does however demonstrate that there are other methods, actions and processes available to Railtrack that could contribute to greater reductions in broken rails than the company is currently forecasting."

The HSE and ORR will be writing to Railtrack asking it to respond to the TTCI report and to take the necessary action. It should also explain how this links with the national track recovery plan.

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Hatfield Derailment 17 Oct 2000

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