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Works on or Adjacent to Railways

Designers Knowledge Base


Works on or adjacent to railways are the subject of an extensive set of rules designed to ensure the safety of the workers, the general public and the safeguarding of railway operations and equipment . The respective railway operator will determine the extent of these rules dependent on the extent to which the works impinge upon the railway's operations and premises.


In designing works on or adjacent to railways the designer must be aware of, and assess the risks from, the following principal hazards

Possible hazards and risks

  • falls of materials: such as embankment slip into cuttings, materials into excavations etc
  • struck by moving vehicle, plant etc: such as moving trains, site vehicles and plant
  • falls from height: such as from bridges or from roofs, into excavations etc
  • contact with electricity: contact with live services, third rail etc, plant and equipment contact with overhead cables, signal controls etc
  • health hazards such as noise and vibration, from contaminated land, asbestos or oils
  • collisions between plant and trains caused by encroachment onto permanent way

Some design considerations

The designer has a duty to avoid or mitigate the assessed hazards wherever that is possible. Some possible options for achieving this end in the design are:

  • consider design options where the proximity of the railway has least effect
  • certain methods of construction may be inhibited by the type or frequency of railway traffic
  • ensure separation of the general public and construction work
  • consider the possibility of modification of cuttings and /or embankments to maximise working space or storage areas
  • determine the activities which will require track possession and for how long
  • allow for frequent areas of safety alongside track
  • provide access to control boxes etc. other than along the track
  • consider the protection of signalling equipment, controls and communications