Railways: Industrial Health and Safety

Department for Transport written question – answered on 3rd September 2020.

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Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Department is working closely with Network Rail, train operators, trade unions and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to reduce the risk of fatalities on the network to directly employed staff and contractors. It has been over a year since the tragic deaths of two track maintenance workers, Mr Gareth Delbridge and Mr Michael Lewis, on 3 July 2019, when a passenger train struck them at Margam East Junction on the South Wales Main Line, and I would like to once again express my condolences to their families for their losses.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is currently investigating the circumstances that led to the tragic incident at Margam. Its report, which is expected shortly, is likely to make recommendations aimed at ensuring that lessons are learnt and at preventing such an event happening again.

Since July 2019, Network Rail has established a £70m safety task force to make fundamental changes to the way it manages track worker access to the rail network, including a review of its safe systems of work. Network Rail is also developing new digital protection and warning systems to warn track workers of approaching trains, and to increase the use of technology such as Plain Line Pattern Recognition, which provides automated track inspection and reduces the need for track access.

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