Railtrack to loose safety role
: Sunday, October 10, 1999
Railtrack is to have its role removed of overseeing safety on Britain's railways. The company may also loose other
responsibilities it has concerning safety.
Fueled by the horrific crash at Paddington on 5 October the concerns of the public as well as rail experts has been growing about railway safety. Criticism of Railtrack and its dual role of operating the system as well as safety has been widespread. Despite reassurances from the Company, concerns have frequently been expressed about its abilty to reconcile its duty to provide a safe railway network and shareholders' demands for dividends. This latest move suggests that the government believes that the two do not sit comfortably together.
The announcement follows a report commissioned by the Governemnt last year which was highly critical of Railtrack's performance is a number of areas related to safety. The findings caused Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott to be "extremely concerned".
Legislation will be included in the Queens Speech. It is not yet clear to what body the responsibilities will be handed. One option would be for the existing Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to take over them over or the government could create a new indepenent safety authority.
The report identified five areas where Railtrack was considered to be failing. All could be included in the new legislation:
Railtrack was formed, as Britain's railways were privatised to own and operate the nation's railway infrastructure.
- safety rules and procedures
- railway standards development
- safety auditing
- strategic research
- the investigation of accidents
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