2 August 2004
The article 'Regulator's warning on Network Rail' says that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was stripped of its rail safety role largely because of industry concerns that it insisted on expensive safety measures with little real benefit. No evidence has been produced to back up this view of HSE's work. The Government's White Paper 'The Future of Rail' concurs with my view, expressed previously in these pages, that cost escalation in the rail industry stems from poor management of projects, and a lack of basic cost control. The White Paper acknowledges the good work that HSE has carried out as the rail safety regulator and notes the success of measures it has directed such as the train protection and warning system that reduces the risk of trains overrunning red signals.
I am committed to the success of the merger of rail safety within the Office of Rail and Road and share Chris Bolt's thinking that the industry's approach to standards is also a factor in cost increases. I remain equally committed to nailing throwaway remarks that distort a very clear picture of HSE's considerable contribution to improving rail safety for passengers and workers alike.
Chair, Health & Safety Commission