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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Train 'nine times safer than car'
Rail repair work
Three track workers lost their lives
Travelling by train is now nine times safer per mile than travelling by car, according to the industry's annual safety report.

Accidents affecting passengers are at their lowest levels on record, the Rail Safety and Standards Board report says.

And there are the lowest number of broken rails since records began.

But although no passengers died in accidents 2003, 15 people were killed at level crossings, and three track workers also lost their lives.

The number of assaults on workers also rose by 18%, the report says.

Policy and strategic initiatives director Aidan Nelson said: "The challenge facing the industry is workforce safety and, in partnership with other agencies, the road-rail interface and wider issues of public behaviour."

Red signals

In 2003, the number of broken rails fell by 14%, and accidents affecting passengers by 27%, the report says.

The number of trains running past red signals rose by 5% to 381 - but the completion of the train protection and warning system saw many of them automatically halted.

The system had prevented two train crashes last year, head of safety strategy and risk, Bill Robinson, told BBC News Online.

The number of collisions between a train and an obstacle placed deliberately on the track had fallen to 80 last year, from 126 in 2002, Mr Robinson added.

The number of criminal offences committed on railway lines also fell - by 26%.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board was formed in April 2003, to implement a key set of recommendations from Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove train crash in 1999, which killed 31 people.

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