THE INSTITUTE of Logistics & Transport has warned Britain’s Health & Safety Executive that ’the railways face the risk of long-term decline, leading to increased road traffic problems, if heavy safety regulation is imposed on the industry and a zero tolerance approach taken to the risk of an accident.’ ILT points out that ’meeting the implications of zero tolerance of risk would create a very large bill in safety work, reflecting capital costs, those of maintenance and renewal, operational costs, and administration of the external enforcement bodies.’

Although ILT does not say this, experience has shown that the government treats such expenditure as a subsidy to the railways, almost certainly displacing other forms of support for investment or loss-making operations. One British example is the introduction by 2008 of automatic train protection using ETCS on all routes where 160 km/h is exceeded, as recommended by Lord Cullen and Professor Uff (RG 5.01 p295). With over £500m already being spent on the Train Protection & Warning System, ETCS would cost around £100m per life saved, threatening the 10-year investment plan announced in July 2000.

ILT concludes that ’if railway users are expected to bear the full cost of a zero tolerance safety culture which is applied to the railway alone, then a long-term decline in the industry can be expected as a direct consequence. The environmental benefits of rail will be lost and impact from congestion in major urban cities will become felt more and more. It is at least arguable, too, that the net result will be an increase in the overall number of transport injuries and fatalities.’

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