Railway Virtual Conference: Mind the Gap(s)

16 November 2020 to 18 November 2020

Thank you to everyone who attended the first virtual Railway Group Conference in what has, and continues to be the most difficult of times for our Industry.

Our workforce continues to provide essential services, often in challenging circumstances for passenger, freight and infrastructure customers and we must continue our safety evolution to learn lessons for the future.

Recordings of the presentations can all be viewed below by clicking the links.

Day 1: The Challenges to our industry and the H&S strategy

Session 01: Challenges of Covid-19 and beyond
Presented by: Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR

Session 02: Introducing the Rail Industries Health and Safety Strategy – collaboration in the making
Presented by: Dr Ann Mills, Professional Head, Health Safety & Wellbeing, RSSB

Day 2: Understanding and actioning risk (Workforce & Digital)

Session 03: Reducing the risk of track workers being struck by a train on Britain’s railways
Presented by: Nick Millington, Safety Task Force Director, Network Rail

Session 04: Safe and secure digital assets
Presented by: George Bearfield, Director of Health and Safety, Rock Rail Holdings Ltd

Day 3: Reflection, Lessons Learnt and Lessons to learn in the future

Session 05: Investigating the accident before it happens 
Presented by: Simon French, Chief Inspector, RAIB

Session 06: Learning from Ladbroke Grove
Presented by: Greg Morse, Editor and Operational Feedback Lead, RSSB

Information about the conference

‘Mind the gap’ is a very useful and familiar mantra to promote passenger safety when boarding or alighting trains. However, Covid-19 is one ‘gap’ most of us would not have placed on our horizon scanning map before now. Another lesson learned! But how are we doing minding the gaps in other areas? Are we improving the risk of the potential harm or injury at the passenger train interface? What about recent Track Safety incidents, derailments and SPaDs? Whilst acknowledging the magnitude of Covid-19 we must still be mindful of the more familiar risks in the hopeful anticipation that our industry returns to pre Covid capacity. For example:

  • Remember the Williams review? The gap between train performance and public expectation. Can the recommendations into “Putting Passengers First” still be delivered without detriment to safety?
  • Can reliable software and technology manage the gaps between trains to increase capacity safely?
  • Do we have the leadership and management capability to create a positive culture which supports both health (occupational and mental) and safety in the industry to move us off the performance plateau?

Statistically, we still have a safe rail and tram way, the safest in Europe, so we are getting some things right.

But the significant hazards of the business can change, so being vigilant and doing more of the same may not be enough to sustain, or indeed to improve our safety performance.

Our virtual conference will take aim at some ‘gap analysis’ to identify what we need to change to better identify and control risk – and what good practices we need to retain to consolidate our success.  Collaboration across the industry sectors, having a common purpose, understanding and improving our leadership capability will without doubt support our challenges. It will ensure continuous improvement in all matters of health and safety. We are adaptable to change as Covid 19 has shown us.