Case Study - RSSB: Principles of Decision Making

Client: Rail Safety and Standards Board
Sector: the transport sector
Services delivered: decision support & appraisal , research & innovation

For some years, railway safety has been a controversial issue attracting much media and political comment. On one hand, accidents attract much criticism, on the other, the costs of the industry have grown substantially and there is a great deal of pressure to improve efficiency. In the middle are railway managers who need to balance these pressures as they make important decisions on how best to manage the system. These managers rely on standards and guidance, in one form or another, to assist them in this process. The Rail Safety and Standards Board R&D Programme is working to improve the quality of such standards and guidance, to ensure that safety decisions are made in a consistent and rational way throughout the industry.

As part of this work, Risk Solutions was asked to consider four areas in which there is some uncertainty on the principles that the industry should use. The areas are:

  • application of the precautionary principle and of good practice
  • circumstances when it is acceptable to remove risk controls
  • problems caused by apparently conflicting legislation.

This work is of fundamental importance to how the rail industry develops by helping to ensure that there is greater clarity over how safety decisions should be taken.