Underground railways


An underground system is defined as an electric railway public transport network (a metro or subway system) that runs both above and underground.

How do we regulate underground railways?

We regulate both London Underground Limited (LU) and the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT). LU is responsible for over 3 million passenger journeys each day (approx 1.1bn passenger journey per year). SPT carries 13.16 million passengers each year.

We undertake inspections and investigations and provide advice and guidance on health and safety matters. We also enforce health and safety legislation on both of the networks. One of our requirements is that LUL and SPT have appropriate systems and procedures in place to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.

Our inspectors investigate incidents involving passengers and employees, as well as derailments, signals passed at danger (SPADs) and other operational incidents.

Inspectors also investigate complaints from employees, contractors and members of the public on a variety of issues. These have included drivers maintaining route knowledge, line side debris, track maintenance, station hazards and depot safety issues.

Key issues

The following are key areas of interest in London Underground:

  • Platform / train interface: considering LUL's arrangements for controlling risks to passengers boarding and alighting from trains.
  • Infrastructure maintenance and change: monitoring the effectiveness of the LUL maintenance regime (e.g. For track) and ensuring that changes to the infrastructure (e.g. introduction of new signalling systems) is carried out safely .
  • SPADs: monitoring progress with improving signal reliability, driver behaviour and the quality of SPAD investigations.
  • Control of contractors and employee safety: we have carried out site visits looking at track renewals and other engineering work. These considered site management arrangements, precautions relating to moving trains and on-track plant, and various occupational health risks to construction workers.
  • Safety culture and safety-critical communications: looking at clarity in communications and management related to health and safety, as well as compliance with safety-critical communications standards.
  • Rolling stock: looking at how LUL maintains its older train fleets in a safe condition and how it safely introduces new rolling stock onto the system.

And on the SPT Subway:

  • Safety by design: monitoring how SPT are ensuring that the ongoing Subway modernisation delivers modern safe design for stations, trains and infrastructure.
  • Management of change: monitoring how SPT ensures that changes to its organisation, operation and infrastructure are carried out safely.
  • Platform / train interface: monitoring SPT's arrangements for controlling risks to passengers boarding and alighting from trains.
  • Rolling stock: looking at how the existing fleet is being maintained in the run up to its replacement.