Following on from the success of the Olympic Games, London also recently played host to some international rail events. Two important conferences, the 12th Global Level Crossing and Trespass Symposium (GLX) and the 22nd International Railway Safety Conference (IRSC) were organised and simultaneously hosted by joint organisers RSSB (the Rail Safety and Standards Board), Network Rail (the rail infrastructure managing company) and ORR (the Office of Rail Regulation) from 8 to 12 October in London. The GLX is a biennial event and the IRSC takes place on an annual basis alternatively in Europe or on different continents.
During three intense days that in effect became a “World Safety Summit”, both events brought together around 250 delegates from 23 countries. They both involved not only companies in the rail operating community but included also regulators, trades unions, research institutes, transport ministries, associations, investigators, consultants, European institutions....
They both provided platforms for an in-depth exchange of experience and lessons for improving rail safety with GLX focusing specifically on level crossing and trespassing issues.
Richard Parry-Jones, Network Rail Chairman and Allan Spence, Director Strategy Safety at Network Rail opened the summit at a reception event on Sunday 7th, which also featured an exhibition showcasing 9 different companies, among others: RSSB, NETWORK RAIL and ORR, UIC/ILCAD and companies showing technological innovations aimed at improving level crossing safety.
Paul Thomas, RSSB Chairman and Richard Price, ORR Chief Executive opened IRSC on 8 October. The key message was related to collaboration and maximising our efforts so as to give the public (and our customers) assurance that the railways are safe, reliable and efficient.
IRSC’s theme this year was Leadership, Culture, Behaviours and the integration of Human Factors into management systems. There were 30 presentations on a wide range of subjects relating to the themes of:
- Maintaining and improving safety in financially challenging times;
- Taking account of the human element in technological solutions;
- Influencing and changing behaviours at the interface.
Meanwhile in a venue just around the corner, which meant that delegates could switch between events, John Abbott, RSSB Director; National Programmes, Allan Spence, Director Strategy Safety at Network Rail and Tom Wake, ORR opened the GLX symposium on the theme “Working with others to improve safety and performance at level crossings”. Two keynote speakers addressed the symposium - Andrew Trotter, Chief Constable at the British Transport Police (BTP) presented the enforcement measures in the UK, and Marcel Verslype, ERA Executive Director presented figures on level crossing safety in the EU.
Martin Gallagher, Head of Level Crossings at Network Rail (NR) presented the risk management process in the UK and the new TV, radio and online advertising campaign they had launched on 8 October being part of its level crossing awareness programme and timed to coincide with the GLX symposium. It hopes the campaign adverts will make people more aware that they should treat approaching rail footpath crossings as they would a busy road, even in quiet rural areas.
This launch prompted significant media coverage on BBC and other channels and the radio: http://www.youtube.com/networkrail
One of the 15 BTP/NR mobile enforcement vehicles was also very visible in the car park next to the venue of the symposium. A BTP officer explained to the delegates how the 9 cameras function inside the van posted at level crossings filming and recording level crossings. Any offenders can expect to receive a fine at their address within 48 hours. All together 30 presentations were delivered, on Trespass (RESTRAIL project coordinated by UIC and presented by VTT Finland), Australia and Sweden, Enforcement measures by the Elmhurst Police Illinois USA and the British Transport Police in the UK, crash investigations in Australia, and safety trends, risk models, inspections, intelligent systems, innovations, human behaviour.
Education also featured highly with input from right around the world (TrackSafe Australia), Operation Lifesaver USA and ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day campaign) coordinated by UIC.
The conference noted that the date of the next ILCAD campaign will be 7 May 2013 as part of the 2nd UN Global Road Safety Week taking place worldwide in all UN regions.
In a first for these two conferences, the third day was arranged as a joint session providing IRSC and GLX delegates with the opportunity to jointly consider issues related to the management of safety at the key interfaces. The first speaker was Aidan Nelson who presented a worldwide state of art of level crossing safety, trespassing and suicides. He underlined the importance of ILCAD as THE worldwide initiative enabling partners to exchange on best practices on level crossing safety and organise joint actions on the same date to alert the public on the dangers of level crossings around the world.
The main points of interest from the presentations at IRSC demonstrated that there is an emerging pragmatic approach to the management of safety in these economically sensitive times using risk assessment and cost benefit tools to ensure that the measures put in place are what is needed.
The need for constant collaboration in a fragmenting rail sector (especially in Europe) is essential to ensure that the key system interfaces are effectively and efficiently managed both internally and externally.
The importance of using reliable data to identify trends and support decision-making was especially highlighted so as to ensure that rail investment is targeted at the areas that really need attention and not on things that people think need attention.
Rail is still a very human-dominated sector and these people and the actions they perform are critical to delivering a safe and reliable system. It is by systematically learning from our own operational experiences and those of others that we can improve the rail system for future generations. IRSC as a global platform is of course a significant contributor in facilitating this learning.
On the final evening of the formal part of the conferences, all the delegates came together for a networking event at which UIC Director General, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux spoke of the importance of these conferences in enabling safety experts from all around the world to meet on a regular basis and tackle different rail safety issues and innovations to improve safety. He reminded delegates that rail is the safest form of land transport and a position of which other modes are jealous. He concluded by highlighting that it is that through collaboration that we will be able to collectively maintain that position.
On Thursday 11th October while IRSC and GLX delegates were able to visit the Network Rail National Centre at Milton Keynes and also a number of level crossing sites, the UIC took the opportunity to organise the annual UIC Safety Platform meeting in London. The agenda included not only updates from the different Safety Platform Working Groups (including the Safety Database) http://www.uic.org/safety, an overview on the European Project RESTRAIL (REduction of Suicides and Trespasses on RAILway property) coordinated by UIC: http://www.restrail.eu/ but also featured a series of initiatives from a number of member companies including SNCF/France, Trafikverket/Sweden, Network Rail/UK, Public Transport Victoria/Australia.
The two events were hugely successful thanks to the excellent organisation of RSSB/Network Rail and ORR. On behalf of all the UIC member companies at the events, we would like to express our thanks for the work that was put in.
For further information you can consult the following sites – IRSC 2012: www.irsc2012.org and GLX 2012: www.levelcrossing2012.org
And so to the future:
Make a note in your diary NOW for the date of the 23rd IRSC annual event: Vancouver, Canada from 6 to 11 October 2013 jointly organised by RAC, Transport Canada and the Transport Safety Board of Canada with UIC member Via Rail, Operation Lifesaver and others.
The theme will be: “Enhancing railway safety innovation, community partnerships and effective safety management”. For more information on IRSC 2013 please visit: www.irsc2013.org
The 13th GLX event will take place in 2014. Whilst details are yet to be confirmed, it is anticipated that this will be in Chicago, USA.