Letter: Wrong sort of statistics

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IAN Jack, in considering figures for casualties in rail accidents (21 January), is quite right to describe statistics as "tricky items".

In comparing the figures for 1983 with those for 1993/4 it should be noted that the accident reporting requirements have changed. The apparent increase is more than accounted for by two additional categories: slips, trips and falls (1,559) and assaults on staff (319).

The number of casualties in accidents involving trains in fact reduced slightly (2,740 to 2,634), despite an increase in the number of passengers carried on the BR/Railtrack system (695 million to 713 million), and considerable expansion of non-BR light rail systems which are included in the statistics.

There is still no room for complacency and all parts of the rail industry continue to strive for improvements in what is an extremely safe form of travel.

Terry Worrall

Safety Directorate British Railways Board

London NW1