Catalogue description Railway Inspectorate; RI Series Files

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Details of MT 114
Reference: MT 114
Title: Railway Inspectorate; RI Series Files

This series contains files of the Railway Inspectorate concerning safety provisions for railways. The files cover various aspects of railway safety, such as track inspection, accident investigation, staff health and safety, and operating system inspection. Most files relate to train accidents and new works. Many files concern safety modifications to level crossings.

Files are usually listed in groups under headings of the main railway regions (Southern, Western, Eastern, North Eastern, Scottish, London Midland, and London Transport). There are also files concerning the triple collision at Harrow in 1952 and the Hixon level crossing accident of 1968.

Date: 1926-2016

The Railway Inspectorate administers safety provisions for railways. These fall into four distinct responsibilities: track inspection, accident investigation, staff health and safety, and operating system inspection.

The Railway Regulation Act of 1840 gave the President of the Board of Trade powers to appoint an inspector general and two inspecting officers of railways. They reported on the construction and equipment of new railways and were empowered to postpone the opening of a railway until it satisfied their requirements. The Regulation of Railways Act of 1871 provided the inspectors with the statutory power to investigate accidents and hold public inquiries, which are still held under this authority.

Inquiries into accidents involving railway staff were held by the inspectors as early as 1858, but legislation was not brought in until the Railway Employment (Prevention of Accidents) Act of 1900, which authorised the Board of Trade to appoint assistant inspecting officers (now called Railway Employment Inspectors) to investigate the more serious accidents to employees. The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 increased this aspect of the Inspectorate's work greatly, when it became an agency of the Health and Safety Commission, responsible for enforcing safety legislation on railway premises.

The other main function of the Railway Inspectorate is the inspection of new operating systems, especially with the introduction of electrification and schemes for automation. Under the Road and Rail Traffic Act of 1933, which codified the existing statutory functions, the secretary of state for Transport could order an inspection before granting his approval of new works. In addition, the Inspectorate is employed by the Department of Transport to provide expert advice on all railway matters.

Related material:

Accident reports, 1854-1977 can be found in RAIL 1053

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: RI Series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Department of the Environment, Railway Inspectorate, 1970-1974

Health and Safety Commission, Railway Inspectorate, 1975-2006

Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Railway Inspectorate, 1953-1959

Ministry of Transport, Railway Inspectorate, 1919-1941

Ministry of Transport, Railway Inspectorate, 1946-1953

Ministry of Transport, Railway Inspectorate, 1959-1970

Ministry of War Transport, Railway Inspectorate, 1941-1946

Physical description: 4060 file(s)
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 1982 Department of the Environment

Custodial history: The records of the Railway Inspectorate were held by the Departmenrt of Transport (and its predecessors) until 1992. Between 1992 and 1996, they were transferred to the Health and Safety Commission.
Accruals: Series is accruing.

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