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 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Railway Safety (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents involving Certain Railways) Bill 2020: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Railway Safety (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents involving Certain Railways) Bill 2020: Second Stage

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 6
Unrevised

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Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor): Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor The Select Committee on the Transport and Communication Networks has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for the Public Service for the year ending 31 December 2020: Vote 31.

Railway Safety (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents involving Certain Railways) Bill 2020: Order for Second Stage

  Bill entitled an Act to provide for the reporting and investigation of serious accidents, accidents and incidents involving certain railways.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I move: “That Second Stage be taken now.”

  Question put and agreed to.

Railway Safety (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents involving Certain Railways) Bill 2020: Second Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

The Bill is to provide a statutory basis for a continuation of the powers of the Railway Accident Investigation Unit, RAIU for the reporting and investigation of serious accidents and incidents involving certain categories of railways that are specified in section 3. The RAIU is the independent statutory body that carries out railway accident investigations in the State.

I refer to the background to this matter. The EU railway safety directive of 2004, Directive 2004/49/EC, established a common regulatory framework for railway safety across member states through the harmonisation of safety rules, certification, the roles of national safety authorities and investigation of accidents. The directive required that member states established an independent national investigation body and to that end the RAIU was established here. The objective of the RAIU investigation is to identify the causes of accidents but it is also a means to improving railway safety in general and preventing future accidents from happening. I am sure that all Deputies will agree that in the operation of the states railways, safety is paramount. To enable this, it is essential that the RAIU has a strong statutory basis to underpin its role in regard to the reporting and investigation of accidents and incidents on our railways.

The EU railway safety directive of 2004 applied to all categories of railways and the provisions in chapter 5 of the directive for the investigation of accidents were transposed here in the European Union (Railway Safety) (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2014. These regulations are referred to in the Bill as "Regulations of 2014". The RAIU was conferred with powers and functions under the 2014 regulations in respect of all railways. This includes heavy rail, that is, the railway operations on the Iarnród Éireann network and light rail, which includes the Luas tram railway in Dublin. Those powers and functions also covered the metros and other railways such as heritage railways, of which there are a number throughout the country.

The need for the provisions in this Bill arise from a change in law at EU level. Under the EU fourth railway package agreed in 2016, the EU railway safety directive of 2004 is being repealed and is being recast by Directive EU (2016) 789 on railway safety. This replacement directive, which I will refer to as the recast railway safety directive, will come into operation on 31 October 2020. The focus of the EU fourth railway package is on the promotion of the rail market in a single European railway area and on the technical interoperability of the Union railway system to support rail passenger and freight transport services. As a result of this, the recast railway safety directive has a reduced scope and it expressly excludes light railways, metro and other local railway systems. In the context of the railway systems in Ireland it is only heavy rail, that is, the railway operations on Iarnród Éireann network, including the DART, that now come within the scope of the recast railway safety directive.

Last week, the Minister for Transport made the European Union (Railway Safety) (Reporting and Investigation of Serious Accidents, Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2020. These regulations are referred to in the Bill as "Regulations of 2020".


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