Making tracks towards a safer rail industry
The UK rail system is amongst the safest and most used railway networks in the world, thanks to a number of factors, including advanced health and safety management systems and effective use of technology. However, more progress needs to be made in order to continue this growth, and as such, some £47.9 billion infrastructure funding has been brought forward by the government.
Dura Composites is providing a spotlight on efforts by the government, rail operators and manufacturers to increase safety on the railway for staff and passengers, exploring the progress already made, and more importantly, what still needs to be done and whether the budget for CP6 is being spent to best allow this. We’ve collaborated with industry bodies such as RIA, Composites UK and British Transport Police to get their insight into the industry.
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The report includes:
- Roles and responsibilities within the rail industry
- Challenges facing the rail industry such as passenger numbers, freight volumes and extreme weather
- Fire safety standards for infrastructure
- Electrification and its challenges
- Consumer awareness of safety improvements
- Anti-suicide and wellbeing measures
- Passenger and worker accidents & fatalities
- Rail freight volumes post-Brexit
- Rail Safety overseas
Roles and Responsibilities
The railway system is one with many stakeholders; there are a number of different companies and organisations delivering different aspects of the railway, which means there is no signal organisation which leads.
There have been questions over responsibilities and accountability, a contributing factor towards the Government announcing the Rail Review into the most appropriate organisational and commercial framework for the rail sector.
Fire Safety Standards for Composites
We’ve been working closely with Network Rail to put in place stringent fire safety standards for composite products used for important applications such as station platforms, bridge walkways and stairs and driver walkways. As composite materials are playing an increasing role in the rail industry thanks to their high strength to weight ration and durability, Network Rail wanted to update its fire safety specifications aligned to particular test standards for certain common applications.
Roughly 4.5% of all suicides in the UK take place on the railway and the Government has a target to reduce rail suicides by 10% by 2020/2021.
In Japan, blue LED lights were installed in station platforms back in 2009 in order to help prevent suicide by rail. There’s since been an 84% decrease in suicides at stations where these lights are installed. Dura Platform can be fitted with these energy efficient LEDs to the front edge of the coper unit, adjacent to the white nosing, improving visibility of the platform edge for passenger safety.
Challenges Facing the industry
There are a number of challenges currently facing the rail industry. Growth in passenger numbers and freight volumes are only expected to continue, whilst there are increasing expectations to demonstrate value for money.
A recent incident at Peckham Rye station which saw 80 passengers ordered to evacuate a train close to an electrically live line was attributed to stress and work overload.
Rail Safety Overseas
With one of the safest rail networks in the world, it’s an industry the UK are leading on, with other countries looking to follow suit.
India is home to one of the world’s largest railways. Its population of 1.4 billion people makes rail maintenance extremely challenging. We’ve recently expanded overseas to bring our durable composite products to India’s railways.