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Irish Rail says it's committed to safety improvements after criticism by regulator

Transport Minister Shane Ross said there is “no immediate risk to safety”.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

IRISH RAIL HAS said it is committed to continuous safety improvements after being criticised by the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR).

In its annual report for 2015, the CRR said it was evident that Iarnród Éireann was “taking a noticeably different approach towards safety regulation”.

The report criticised “the stance adopted at the most senior level in Iarnród Éireann management when responding to matters of safety management compliance identified by the Commission”.

The document added that it is “of concern that the type of sentiment expressed in correspondence with the regulator may be a reflection of a leadership attitude to safety that would be less than the Commission expects”.

However, it noted that “despite the issues encountered”, the CRR “continued to encourage key professional staff … in taking steps to implement improvements for the benefit of railway safety”.

The report added: “The vast majority of such key staff have been receptive to the Commission’s recommendations.”

Responding to the report, Iarnród Éireann said its board and management “are committed to fulfilling” the programme of actions agreed to with the CRR, including revised reporting and governance arrangements between the two bodies.

The company said it is also committed to “working with the CRR to ensure the highest standards of safety are achieved within Iarnród Éireann for customers, employees and third parties”.

rail A summary of reportable incidents in 2015, other than SPAD incidents (signals passed at danger) Source: CRR annual report

Irish Rail said it has “a strong record in safety management as acknowledged by European Union review and has been working tirelessly during the recent years of constrained funding in particular to ensure best practices are applied”.

The statement notes: “Safety is the number one priority across all levels of organisation”.

It added that a number of actions implemented since an internal review in 2013 had further strengthened practices, including extensive engagement with the CRR, driver reminder appliances, and enhancement of governance and reporting processes across the organisation.

No immediate risk 

Transport Minister Shane Ross said: “Rail safety is paramount – I believe that Irish Rail is now in a strong position to deal with the safety governance issues that have been highlighted in the CRR annual report.

“In order to provide further assurance, I have suggested to the CRR Commissioner, Mr Gerald Beesley, that he might update me on progress made on a quarterly basis in 2017, with a view to sustaining the improvements identified in his letter of 30 November last to me.”

Ross said this letter “again assured me that there is no immediate risk to safety”.

“The Commissioner has also advised that he has the necessary powers to deal with such risk should it ever arise, and that he would do so,” Ross added.

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Órla Ryan

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