Railway Regulator publishes its Annual Report for 2015
21 Dec 2016
Commission for Railway Regulation's Annual Report for 2015 concerned about top management attitude within Iarnród Éireann to safety.
The Commission for Railway Regulation has experienced a "strained relationship" with Irish Rail – Iarnród Éireann, according to a statement accompanying the 2015 Annual Report of the CRR, which criticises IÉ’s corporate position on safety management.
The Commissioner, Gerald Beesley, stressed that IÉ’s approach to safety management poses no immediate danger to passengers or staff.
"Should such a risk arise, the CRR will take appropriate steps, in accordance with its powers under the Railway Safety Act to ensure the safety of the public," said Mr Beesley today.
The Commission for Railway Regulation's Annual Report for 2015 highlights concerns about strategic issues of longer term concern in regard to fundamental matters of policy, organisational culture, governance, and management that can, over time, impact on safety.
"Early in 2015, it became clear that IÉ was adopting a noticeably different approach to safety regulation. This was evident in IÉ's tendency to depart from established processes, and in the corporate position in relation to safety management as expressed through official correspondence with the CRR. An unacceptably strained working relationship developed between IÉ and the CRR, which prevailed throughout the year."
Continuing challenges - including legal challenges - to judgments and recommendations from CRR led to the Regulator bringing its concerns to the attention of officials in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport earlier this year, CRR emphasising a requirement for a paradigm shift in IÉ’s attitude to safety regulation.
In discussions with the Department at the end of May 2016, the CRR outlined its serious concerns (principally about safety governance). The Department was told that the leadership attitude to safety within Irish Rail "was less than the CRR expects in regard to legal obligations and the diligence required in safety management."
It was agreed that it was essential to find a path to improve the situation, and that it would be helpful if this was evident at the time of publication of the Annual Report. Measures that could address the issues of concern to the CRR and collectively improve the situation were identified; the aim being to work out a programme of actions (principally by IÉ) that can remediate the problems and address the CRR concerns, and ensure that such actions are implemented.
“The CRR considers that this type of approach is suitable, and it is possible because the issues identified in the Annual Report do not present any immediate risk to the safety of railway operations.”
In order to improve the situation, the Railway Regulator has, since the preparation of the 2015 Annual Report, been engaging with IÉ Board members.
Gerald Beesley today acknowledged indications from the IÉ Board of their desire to progress in the direction the CRR requires.
"An open line of communication with the Board has been established, and there is now a better understanding and heightened awareness of the CRR's safety concerns at Board level," he said. “This is facilitating on-going constructive dialogue, which is enabling previous areas of misapprehension and challenge to be addressed.”
“Provided that the sentiment and intentions espoused by IÉ are evidenced in actions that deliver continuous improvement in safety management, and there is a positive change in IÉ’s attitude toward the authority of the CRR in respect of safety regulation, there is now an opportunity to proceed positively to the mutual benefit of the Regulator and the Company.”