PACTS organised the 30th Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety on Monday, 11th April 2022, at the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. The event was held in partnership with the RAC Foundation and with support from Burges Salmon LLB. Tony Ciaburro, Chair of PACTS, chaired the event and started by welcoming everyone to the first in-person PACTS event for two years. Over 70 PACTS members and guests attended.
Simon French OBE, former Chief Inspector, Rail Accident Investigation Branch, delivered the lecture: Reflections on 18 years as a railway accident investigator.
Simon French is a graduate of the London School of Economics and joined the railway industry in 1982 as a management trainee. He held a number of operational posts in British Rail and worked on several major railway projects, including the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow Express. In 1998 he joined the client organisation for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now known as HS1) as the Head of Operations and Safety. In 2004 Simon joined the newly formed Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). The RAIB is the independent body tasked with the investigation of railway accidents in the UK. After six years as Deputy, in 2015, he was appointed to the role of Chief Inspector. He retired in April 2022 after 40 years in an industry that he loves.
Access the presentation slides here: Simon French, Reflections on 18 years as a railway accident investigator.
Ann Metherall, Partner, Burges Salmon LLP, gave the vote of thanks to Simon French.
The Roads Minister Baroness Vere gave a recorded address, where she complimented Simon French for his service and impressive career at RAIB. She also said that government would soon publish its response to the Roads Policing call for evidence. Learning from the lessons of other accident investigation branches, including RAIB, the government will bring forward legislation to establish a Road Collision Investigation Branch.
Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, outlined the Road Collision Investigation Project undertaken by the RACf with funding from the DfT and National Highways. This had piloted methodology and working practice and established a strong case for a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch. He thought the establishment of a RCIB was now highly likely.
Glimpses from the PACTS 30th Westminster Lecture.