The RSC's role is regulatory - it does not have an operational role in managing the day-to-day safety on the ground. That responsibility lies with the railway organisations. The RSC's role is to ensure that these organisations are putting in place and implementing their Safety Management Systems (SMS).
The Railway Safety Commission was formally established on 1st January 2006 in accordance with the requirements of the Railway Safety Act (RSA) 2005. In the context of the Railway Safety Directive (European Directive 2004/49/EC) the RSC is the National Safety Authority for the railway sector in the Republic of Ireland. The Railway Safety Directive came into full force in Ireland when the RSA was amended by the European (Railway Safety) Regulations (S.I. No.61, 2008).
The Railway Accident Investigation Unit (www.raiu.ie) was also set up under Railway Safety Act 2005 to investigate incidents and accidents. It is functionally separate from the RSC and operates independently, in line with international norms.
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 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.