The heritage rail sector has taken steps to improve across its railways and has now been praised by the Office of Rail and Road for how it has managed the re-opening of its railways since the coronavirus pandemic.
The regulator has said it supports the action by the Heritage Railway Association to develop a strategic approach to increasing its capabilities.
There have been significant improvements to its leadership, most visible in its approach to promoting ways to manage safety risk, says the ORR.
This includes plans to develop a Heritage Safety and Standards Board, which aims to increase cross-sector cooperation and developing and reviewing ways of managing safety risk.
Both the ORR and various heritage railways have worked together during the pandemic, with the ORR providing advice and guidance regarding re-opening after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
However, the ORR has said that the sector still has areas to improve on. It says although the quality of safety management systems is improving, gaps remain in demonstrating how risk is controlled. This has meant that a lack of incidents in the past is not a reliable indicator of how well risk is managed.
To help improve, the Office of Rail and Road has met with the sector to deliver six Risk Management Maturity Model and Safety Update Workshops across Britain to provide guidance on how to use the model in a heritage environment.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE said: “The HRA has taken a significant and important role in providing, amongst other things, safety leadership to the sector, most visibly by developing and promoting proportionate ways to manage safety risk.
“ORR issued advice and guidance to the industry to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. We’re pleased that they have listened and used this guidance to safely re-open its railways for the public to enjoy.”
“In the last year we have also seen some good approaches to improving safety. These often used technology to promote a system approach; digital platforms to share information and to deliver a system approach to assets, information, and competence management.
“Heritage operators continue to show enthusiasm to learn and manage their operations safely, and have responded appropriately to inspector advice. It remains a growing sector but significant challenges must be addressed to ensure it remains safe in the 21st century.”
Get image downloads, Prints and Streaming Video
The latest railway news
Railway Prints, DVD’s / Blu-Ray’s and more
Come and share your railway pictures
Mainline UK Steam Info
Upcoming mainline steam tours/loco movements