A comparison of data-driven and model-based approaches to quantifying railway risk

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This paper presents some of the results of a project sponsored by the UK Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). An earlier statistical evaluation of a previous version of the RSSB Safety Risk Model (SRM), a combined Fault/Event Tree, conducted by Prof Andrew Evans had concluded that the model was unduly pessimistic. We have constructed a hypothesis test based on the relative likelihood techniques using the most recent version of the SRM as the null hypothesis. The results support the SRM being consistent with the historical data. Two significant differences between these two studies are the statistical methods employed to support the analysis and the removal of certain significant conservative assumptions from updating the versions of the SRM.

The paper discusses the demands that different model purposes place on these models, and explores the question of whether or not it is meaningful to compare their outputs. The use of expected fatalities as a metric for expressing risk in both models is questioned because of the heavy-tailed form of the distribution for fatality numbers given a fatal accident.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProbabilistic Safety Assessment and Management
EditorsCornelia Spitzer, Ulrich Schmocker, Vinh N. Dang
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781852338275
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • UK Railway Safety and Standards Board
  • reliability
  • system performance
  • Safety Risk Model
  • RSSB


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