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LU joins rail industry in confidential safety incident reporting network

LONDON UNDERGROUND is to join the rest of the railway industry in a new confidential health and safety reporting system, it was confirmed last week.

Set up last year in the wake of the 1999 Ladbroke Grove disaster, the Confidential Incident Reporting & Analysis System (CIRAS) has grown to cover 68,000 rail workers in the UK.

London Underground's (LU) accession will take this total past 80,000. Some LU staff responsible for small sections of the Tube network which run on main line tracks have already joined.

'Safety is always our top priority and we want to give our staff every possible opportunity to report any safety worries they might have', an LU spokesman said. 'A confidential system will enable them to do so without fear of being stigmatised.'

CIRAS member companies, which include Railtrack, train operating companies and rail contractors, pay £15 per employee per annum for each 'safety-critical' member of staff they nominate. These fees support three regional centres, administered respectively by WS Atkins, DERA and the University of Strathclyde.

Reports received by the regions are 'anonymised' to protect the identity of informants. They are then circulated to all members via quarterly newsletters.

The headquarters at Strathclyde - which will analyse data from the regional centres - is funded by Railway Safety, the independent, not for profit subsidiary of Railtrack.

Control of CIRAS is vested in a board of trustees which includes representatives from employers, trades unions and the Rail Passenger Council.

CIRAS project manager and Railway Safety head of national initiatives Maurice Wilsdon said the key to getting the system off the ground was the success of a pilot scheme run in Strathclyde from 1996-1999.

'This allayed fears it might be abused by those seeking to air grievances or settle grudges, ' Wilsdon added.

'In fact most of the reports we receive cover fairly low level and undramatic matters like rostering and procedures for trains leaving stations.'

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