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This note outlines the statutory framework for investigating accidents on the railway and provides information on five of the most serious accidents in the past fifteen years.

After every accident there is an accident report published, usually compiled by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). In the case of more serious accidents there is also often a public inquiry. Many of the safety improvements to the railway have come about following recommendations from public inquiries that followed serious accidents. It has proven very difficult for rail companies, including Railtrack/Network Rail, to be prosecuted for serious accidents. Where Network Rail has been found liable for accidents it is usually fined and there is an ongoing debate about the fact that public money, or money that might otherwise be invested in the railway, is used to pay these fines.


Documents to download

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