Increase in rail trespass deaths

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The Independent Online

The number of people killed trespassing on the railways rose last year, it was revealed today.

Trespass fatalities rose from 44 in 2008-09 to 49 in 2009-10, the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) reported.

There were 12 deaths involving the general public at level crossings in 2009-10 - the same number as in the previous year.

The number of train collisions with road vehicles dropped from 21 in 2008-09 to 14 in 2009-10.

For the fourth year in the last five, there were no deaths of passengers or rail workers in train accidents in 2009/10.

Five passengers died in incidents at stations - the same figure as in 2008-09 - while three rail workers were killed in accidents in 2009-10.

Publishing its annual safety performance report, the RSSB also said the number of serious incidents of signals passed at danger reached a record annual low of 277 in 2009/10 - a reduction of 15 on the year before.

RSSB policy, research and risk director Anson Jack said: "Over the last 10 years, the industry has been able to effect the biggest safety improvements in areas where it has direct control and responsibility - particularly the risk from train accidents and more generally the overall risk to passengers and members of the workforce.

"Nobody is complacent - the human element and the nature of railway operations means that we can't have zero risk. But the whole industry, whether that's Network Rail or a train operator, frontline staff or senior management, are resolute in their commitment to safety."

Alec McTavish, director of policy and operations at the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "It is very encouraging that the RSSB has found rail travel continues to become even safer."