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Rail Accident Investigation Branch

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The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is a British government agency that investigates rail accidents in the United Kingdom and the Channel Tunnel in order to find a cause, not to lay blame. Created in 2005, it is required by law to investigate accidents causing death, serious injuries or extensive damage. It also has authority to investigate incidents that could have resulted in accidents. It currently has two bases – Derby and Farnborough – to allow it to respond quickly to accidents.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch
Formation17 October 2005
TypeGovernment Agency
Chief Inspector
Simon French[1]
44 (including 26 inspectors) [2]

Creation and remitEdit

The Cullen Report into the Ladbroke Grove rail crash in 1999 recommended the establishment of an accident investigation body within the Department for Transport along the same lines as the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Air Accident Investigation Branch, bodies that have distinguished themselves by their professionalism and objectivity.

In 2003 Parliament legislated – in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 – to create the RAIB as an independent body charged solely with establishing the facts of the case and assessing and evaluating causes, but not apportioning blame or establishing liability; nor does the RAIB enforce safety law or conduct prosecutions.

The RAIB became operational on 17 October 2005.[3] Before then, railway accidents were investigated by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate (which in 1990 became part of the Health and Safety Executive but is now part of the Office of Rail and Road), and the British Transport Police (if there were grounds for suspecting the commission of a crime, which in some cases there were). Whilst the police must always be involved when there may have been a crime, the involvement of HMRI as the principal safety investigating agency attracted criticism on the grounds that the HSE might be investigating itself, if, for example, the HSE had approved a track layout or a signalling scheme later suspected to have been at fault.

The RAIB also satisfies the government's duty under European legislation (European Railway Safety Directive 2004/49/EC) to provide an independent rail accident investigation body.

The RAIB has its remit laid down in law by The Railways (Accident Investigation and Reporting) Regulations 2005, which principally require the branch to investigate any accident or dangerous occurrence that results in:

  • The death of at least one person;
  • Serious injury to five or more people; or
  • Extensive damage to rolling stock, the infrastructure or the environment.

The RAIB has authority to investigate any accident that occurs on any of the following railway transport systems, but especially investigates those that may have implications for railway safety or those that "…under slightly different circumstances, may have resulted in an accident.":[4]

  • The national railway networks in Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
  • The Channel Tunnel (in co-operation with its equivalent operation in France);
  • The London Underground, Glasgow Underground and other metro systems;
  • Tramways
  • Heritage railways (including narrow-gauge systems over 350 mm [14 in] gauge); and
  • Cable-hauled systems of 1 km (0.62 mi) or longer.


The agency has operational centres in The Wharf, a facility in Derby,[5] and in Farnborough.[6] Previously its southern office was in Woking, Surrey.[7] The RAIB has this setup so that it can quickly respond to rail accidents in any part of the United Kingdom.[6] The Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector operate out of both Derby and Farnborough offices. Each site has two inspectorate teams and its own operational support staff.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Simon French - GOV.UK".
  2. ^ "Publications - GOV.UK".
  3. ^ "Rail Accident Investigation Branch launched" Railways Illustrated issue 35 January 2006 page 19
  4. ^ "About - Rail Accident Investigation Branch - GOV.UK".
  5. ^ "Contact us." Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved on 19 October 2010. "Rail Accident Investigation Branch Address The Wharf Stores Road Derby DE21 4BA"
  6. ^ a b "About - Rail Accident Investigation Branch - GOV.UK".
  7. ^ "About Us." Rail Accident Investigation Branch. 7 October 2006. Retrieved on 4 November 2012.
  8. ^ "[1] Archived 2011-12-10 at the UK Government Web Archive." Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved on 21 October 2011.

External linksEdit