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Accident investigation prompts new road safety guidance

8 Nov 2023

New tramway design guidance, published in the wake of a serious incident in Manchester, is set to enhance the safety of both existing and future light rail systems.

Working closely with industry experts, the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board has developed a comprehensive guide to Road Safety Audits (RSA) in response to a Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report on a collision between a tram and a cyclist on a pedestrian crossing.

The crossing’s unusual layout had not been identified as a potential hazard during the design stage.

Mark Ashmore, Head of Safety and Assurance at the LRSSB, said: “One of the key recommendations of the RAIB report was a requirement for practical guidance to help tramway designers, owners, and maintainers identify and mitigate hazards during tramway development and construction to further reduce the risk of collisions with pedestrians and other road users.

“As well as highlighting the factors that need to be taken into account during the design phase and into initial tram operations, the guidance may also interest local highway authorities who are developing schemes that interface with an existing light rail system.”

He said the guidance document, which can be downloaded here, can offer an effective, independent review for all road users of the safety implications of engineering interventions on the highway.

The RSA process is structured around three key parties: the overseeing organisation (for example, the relevant tramway or highway authority), the tramway designers, and the RSA team itself. It also says the RSA team should include staff with experience of collision data analysis and road safety engineering, as well as an understanding of highway design principles.

Clear and effective communication between these three parties is another essential requirement to maximise the potential benefits to road safety.

Mark added: “Even the careful application of design standards by competent professionals can never eradicate every risk for road users, but the guidance provides an important tool for reviewing and addressing those risks so that we minimise their impact and reduce their frequency.”

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