Goal-setting principles for railway health and safety


We have produced 'Principles for health and safety on the railway' to help dutyholders understand how to meet our expectations for the high-level goals that should be achieved by the railway when complying with the health and safety legislation.

The principles highlight the factors which should be addressed by anyone designing and putting into use new railways or rail vehicles, including major upgrades and renewals from the earliest stage of such projects.

The design of any railway, railway vehicles, works, plant and equipment should take into account:

  • how it will be operated
  • how it will be maintained
  • any reasonable foreseeable misuse
  • sustainability
  • resilience
  • whole life factors.

Principles for health and safety on the railway
Published January 2017

Railway inspectors may refer to this publication to show good practice when looking to secure compliance with the law.

The principles replace and update Part 1 of HMRI's Railway Safety Principles and Guidance (often referred to as "the Blue Book"), which was discontinued.

The Part 2 documents to HMRI's Railway Safety Principles and Guidance are no longer considered to represent good practice and have been overtaken by Technical Standards for Interoperability, Railway Group Standards and EN and BS standards. As a result ORR has withdrawn those documents.

As part of any design or assessment process duty holders should check that they are using current appropriate guidance and standards.

Further information

We wrote to the whole mainline rail industry in March 2018 to remind rail businesses of their responsibilities for identifying standards correctly and of the disapplication of RSPG2.

Driver Controlled Operation of passenger trains (DCO), sometimes referred to as Driver Only Operation, is where the train driver is in control of the door operation of the train, we published our Railway Safety Principles on Driver Controlled Operation in April 2017.

Unattended Train Operation (UTO) is a railway which comprises a digital system of interacting hardware and software systems which undertakes functions historically provided by a human driver and automates a number of those traditionally carried out by a signaller or controller. We have published Goal-setting Principles for Railway Health and Safety: Additional factors to be considered for unattended passenger train operation (GOA4) to be read in conjunction with GPRHS when designing a new or upgraded railway to operate in UTO configuration.