The RSC's role is regulatory - it does not have an operational role in managing day-to-day safety on the ground. That responsibility lies with the various railway organisations. The RSC's role is to ensure that each railway organisation has implemented and is complying with Safety Management Systems (SMS) that conform to legislative requirements.
The Railway Safety Commission was formally established on 1st January 2006 in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Safety Act (RSA) 2005. In the context of the Railway Safety Directive (European Directive 2004/49/EC), as reflected in S.I. No.444 of 2013, the RSC is the National Safety Authority for the railway sector in the Republic of Ireland.
The RSC is required to ensure that each railway organisation operating in the State understands and effectively manages the risk to safety associated with its activities. This is achieved in three ways:
- Conformity Assessment - Assessing Safety Management Systems (SMS) to ensure that they conform to all requirements prior to awarding safety authorisation or safety certificates, and assessment of new or significantly altered railway infrastructure and rolling stock to ensure safety compliance prior to placing in service
- Compliance Supervision & Enforcement - Auditing compliance with the procedures and standards prescribed in each approved SMS, and inspection of railway assets to assess compliance with fitness for purpose criteria. Compliance with safety recommendations is assured through the monitoring of implementation plans and by taking enforcement proceedings where necessary
- European & Legislative Harmonisation - Supporting the harmonisation of legislation with European Directives and Regulations, and ensuring that the consequent implementation of related technical and procedural measures conforms to mandatory European requirements.
In terms of European Directive 2012/34, as reflected in S.I. No.249 of 2015, the RSC is the Regulatory Body, Licensing Authority and Independent Monitoring Body for the heavy rail sector in the State. Additional regulatory functions include:
- Licensing of Railway Undertakings wishing to access the network;
- Independent Monitoring of Multi-Annual Contract between the Minister and the Infrastructure Manager (Track Access revenue is insufficient to meet the steady state O&M costs of the network); and
- Adjudication on complaints regarding allocation of network capacity or pricing of access to the network.