II. THE SAFETY TEST
16. London Underground Limited has a better safety
track record than any comparable metro system around the world.
The last major train collision occurred 27 years ago.
The Underground continues to seek improvements in safety performance
as required under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The Railway Safety Regulations 2000 require anyone providing railway
infrastructure or operating train services to prepare and submit
to the Health and Safety Executive a Safety Case that sets out
safety policy and objectives, a risk assessment, risk control
measures and safety management systems.
Any proposed major operational change requires the Safety Case
holder to submit a new case for examination to the Health and
Safety Executive. The Safety Case holder for the Underground system
is London Underground Limited. Under the PPP contract, each Infrastructure
company will also have its own Safety Case, which will have to
demonstrate compliance with London Underground Limited's Safety
Case and all relevant safety legislation.
PPP Safety Case
17. Table 1 sets out the progress towards developing
a Safety Case suitable for managing safety under the PPP contracts.
Safety Case Version
Dates Effective From
Safety Case reflecting the PPP structure of 3 Infracos and 1 operating company all under public sector control.
Further development of PPP structure with the Infracos adopted as subsidiary companies of London Underground Limited and the inclusion of non-statutory safety cases for the Infracos.
Improvement to Version 2.5 of the Safety Case in preparation for transfer of the Infracos to the private sector.
Start of PPP
Modification of Version 3.0 of the contracts to reflect the change of the Infracos to private sector companies under the PPP.
The Health and Safety Executive approved Version 2.5 on the understanding
that "significant progress and improvement would need to
be made by London Underground Limited and its infrastructure companies
before the next version, Version 3.0, was accepted".
During this inquiry, the Health and Safety Executive approved
Version 3.0 of the London Underground Limited Safety Case, stating
that "London Underground Limited has provided convincing
evidence to the Health and Safety Executive as the independent
safety regulator that it is able properly to assess and control
the risks that are likely to arise from its modernisation plans
for the Tube network".
Version 3.0 will become operational on 4 February 2002.
18. On 19 December 2001, London Underground Limited submitted
a further Safety Case to the Health and Safety Executive, Version
3.1, which specifically addresses issues related to the transfer
of the infrastructure companies into the private sector. The PPP
contracts cannot commence until Version 3.1 of the Safety Case
is approved. The
Health and Safety Executive anticipated that Version 3.1 could
be approved by 8 March 2002 to meet London Underground's provisional
timetable for agreeing the PPP deal by 1 April 2002,
although it told us that it would extend this timetable if necessary.
The approval of Version 3.1 forms the basis of the Government's
"safety test" for the PPP.
The Safety Case in practice
19. The key issue surrounding the safe operation of the Underground
network is not whether a clear, theoretical system exists for
managing safety but whether such a system can be made to work
in practice. Transport
for London believes that the management arrangements for
the PPP are so complex that they will jeopardise safety.
The trade unions agreed, suggesting that the complex contractual
management regimes would blur the lines of responsibility and
trade unions highlighted a number of instances in which Safety
Case Version 2.5 was not being implemented on the ground and described
the Safety Case as "a glorified paper chase."
The trade unions have also written to the Health and Safety Executive
to inform them of the lack of consultation that has been undertaken
in the process of developing Version 3.0.
20. The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for assessing
both the development and the implementation of the Safety Case.
It told us that to date, most of its work has been "looking
at the systems and whether they are capable in principle of delivering".
The Health and Safety Executive told us that some aspects of the
implementation of a Safety Case can be examined prior to it becoming
that it would consider the representations of both Transport
for London and the trade unions in examining the implementation
of the Safety Case.
The Health and Safety Executive has set aside resources to understand
how well Version 3.0 of the Safety Case will work on the ground,
which it believes is "fundamental"
before a new Safety Case can be approved for the PPP operational
21. Evaluation of the practical implementation of Version 3.0
will be undertaken in parallel with the assessment of the new
Safety Case. The month which has been set aside to monitor the
implementation of Version 3.0 contrasts with almost two years
between the change from Version 2.5 to Version 3.0. The Health
and Safety Executive did not envisage that Version 3.1 would be
significantly different from Version 3.0 and would therefore not
require as long to assess as the change between Versions 2.5 and
Safety and the PPP contracts
22. We were concerned to ensure that in developing the PPP performance
regime, sufficient account had been taken of the imbalance between
performance bonuses and penalties for safety breaches found on
the mainline railway. That imbalance was criticised by Lord Cullen
in his investigation into the Ladbroke Grove railway crash.
Transport for London expressed concerns that such an imbalance
exists. The Associated
Society of Locomotive Eengineers and Firemen (ASLEF) told the
Sub-Committee that the PPP consortia will have factored the possibility
of safety-related fines into their bids.
London Underground Limited disagreed that there would be a conflict
between good performance and good safety, and stressed that the
PPP was developed to ensure that the contractual and safety regimes
work together to improve the safety performance of the network.
Both Metronet and Tube Lines told us that they were committed
to the safety of the travelling public.
If an Infraco does not fix a safety breach identified by London
Underground Limited then London Underground Limited may step in
and complete the works, the costs of which will subsequently be
charged to the Infracos.
23. The Health and Safety Executive has accepted the findings
of the Cullen inquiry in full and has taken legal advice on whether
any of the commercial aspects of the PPP contract might interfere
with safety control at an early stage in the contract development
process. The Health
and Safety Executive has not, however, conducted any further analysis
of such effects despite the significant changes to the contracts.
It confirmed that a further analysis would be undertaken upon
receiving the final contracts.
On 10 January 2002, London Underground was fined £225,000
for breaching safety standards for workers and accused by Judge
John Samuels QC of "sacrificing safety" in order to
keep trains running "at all costs".
Whilst the Judge acknowledged that London Underground was now
addressing the safety issues raised, concerns remain that the
pressure to deliver improvements under the PPP performance regime
will be even higher and potentially in conflict with safe working
24. The responsibility for monitoring the safe operation of the
network and determining if, and when, new assets are safe for
use falls to London Underground Limited as the Safety Case holder.
The Health and Safety Executive told us the process of implementing,
managing and auditing a Railway Safety Case is necessarily very
resource-intensive for both the Health and Safety Executive and
the Safety Case holder. Parsons Brinckerhoff told the Sub-Committee,
based on their experience in managing other PPP and Private Finance
Initiative contracts, that the audit and approval arm of London
Underground Limited should be "a much bigger organisation
than is currently employed".
Qq443, 466. Back
The Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry, Part 2 Report The Rt Hon
Lord Cullen PC, HSE Books. Back
LU10, LU13. Back
London Underground fined over safety, BBC News on-line, 10 January. Back