AMENDMENTS to the UK's railway safety case regulations were laid before Parliament on March 10, paving the way for the establishment of a new Rail Safety & Standards Board with effect from April 1. RSSB will replace the existing Railway Safety organisation, which was a subsidiary of Railtrack acting on behalf of the whole industry. RSSB will be structured as an independent company limited by guarantee.
On February 24 Rail Regulator Tom Winsor announced that he was seeking formal consent from Network Rail and train operators to the necessary licence modifications, which will require these organisations to become members of RSSB. Initially, the £20m annual running costs will be funded through Network Rail, but from 2006 this will be replaced by a graduated levy on members.
As with Railway Safety, a key responsibility will be to review and update Railway Group Standards as necessary. A significant feature of RSSB's principles of operation is the inclusion of an economic element. Winsor says this is necessary because 'decisions about how a safe railway is to be delivered and about safety priorities must have a dimension of economic choice'.