A rail safety case provides an overview of your organisation’s approach to safety and demonstrates how your management systems work together to achieve your safety commitments.

Its development gets you, as a (prospective) rail participant, to take a look at your organisation and think about how you will keep people safe, rather than just focusing on your equipment or procedures. It does this because often the most serious accidents come about not just from one thing going wrong, but from a build-up of failures across the organisation.

The people in your organisation have a big part to play in safety, so ensuring they contribute to and can easily access a clear and thorough safety case is crucial for keeping safety in mind at all times.

Section 30 of the Railways Act 2005(external link) lists the content that a rail safety case must contain and this document describes that content in more detail.

Why do I need a safety case?

As well as protecting people, property and your business, a safety case allows us (as the regulator) to be satisfied you have the right approach, resources, competencies and culture to identify and assess the risks arising from your rail activities, and develop and implement the required measures to control them.

It also assures us that your safety approach for operations is best suited to the particular risks you face, which includes choosing people with the right abilities and attitude you need.

As a licensed rail participant, an effective safety case gives you the ability to demonstrate you are aware of your safety duties under the Railways Act 2005(external link) by:

  • making clear your commitment to safety
  • demonstrating that you understand all the safety risks in your operation
  • providing assurance you have the ability to manage those risks, and
  • outlining your efforts to proactively identify and manage safety risks that may develop over time.

Am I able to operate without a safety case?

In some instances, your rail activities may be covered by another safety case, for example you may operate and maintain rail vehicles under another licensed participant. Provided their safety case covers all relevant activities, the risks associated with those activities, and details sufficient plans in place to mitigate them, then these activities can be performed without developing your own rail safety case.

For more information see the content on interoperability under ‘What will keep you safe’ on the How do I structure a safety case? page.