Wednesday 21 December 2016
Minister Ross responds to issues raised in the Commission for Rail Regulation (CRR) Annual Report 2015
Today, the CRR publishes its 2015 Annual Report. The CRR is the independent regulator of rail safety.
Minister commented “Rail safety is paramount - I believe that Irish Rail is now in a strong position to deal with the safety governance issues that have been highlighted in the CRR Annual Report. In order to provide further assurance, I have suggested to the CRR Commissioner, Mr Gerald Beesley that he might update me on progress made on a quarterly basis in 2017, with a view to sustaining the improvements identified in his letter of 30th November last to me” (link).
Minister Ross pointed out that “The Annual Report highlighted some strong concerns the CRR Commissioner had about certain safety governance matters in Irish Rail. The Commissioner described the concerns as being of a long term strategic nature. As recently as his letter of 30th November 2016, the CRR has again assured me that there is no immediate risk to safety.
Minister added: “The Commissioner has also advised that he has the necessary powers to deal with such risk should it ever arise, and that he would do so.
My Department has encouraged the Company and the CRR to engage directly in an effective manner to work out a plan for resolving the matters. Over recent months, there has now been intensive direct engagement between the CRR and Irish Rail, involving Board level (including Chair) engagement directly with the CRR.
This has led to a Programme of Actions being agreed between the Company and the CRR. The Commissioner has assured me in his letter that if this Programme of Actions is implemented, then his concerns as outlined in the Annual Report will be fully addressed.
The Chairman of Irish Rail, Mr Phil Gaffney, has also assured me in his letter of 19th December, that the company (Board and management) are committed to implementing the Programme of Actions, and it will work with the CRR to ensure the highest standards of safety are achieved within Irish Rail for customers, employees and third parties.
I understand that the CRR and Irish Rail have agreed new formal arrangements for regular interaction between the two organisations at the most senior levels to oversee the addressing of safety matters.”
Minister concluded: “In my view, there is now a path identified to allow these matters to be resolved to the safety regulator’s satisfaction.”