What Common Safety Methods (CSM-RA) are and when do they apply?


CSM-RA is a framework that describes a mandatory and common European risk management process for railway industry.

Implementing Regulation (EU) No 402/2013 (Regulation on a common CSM safety method) for risk assessment and its evaluation (CSM-RA) is part of a comprehensive work program of the European Railway Agency and the European Commission. The aim is, on the one hand, achieving a more open, competitive railway market and, on the other hand, to ensure that safety levels are maintained, and where reasonably possible, improve them.

Therefore, the intention of CSM-RA is to harmonize the processes of risk assessment and evaluation, and of evidence and documentation produced during the application of such processes. By applying a common process, it will be easier for an evaluation, conducted in one EU Member State, to be accepted in another with the minimum of additional work. This is known as mutual recognition.

The Inter-governmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) has adopted risk assessment requirements (UTP GEN-G), being equivalent to the CSM RA. Therefore, mutual recognition extends to the Contracting States of the OTIF.

When Common Safety Methods (CSMs) should be applied?

CSM-RA applies to any technical, operational or organizational change that can be proposed for a rail system in operation. An entity that makes the change -known as a 'proponent' and which will normally be part of the railway administration itself- must first consider whether the change has an impact on safety. If there is no impact on safety, risk management process based on CSM-RAs is not necessary and the proponent must only keep a record of how he/she arrived at this decision.

If the change has an impact on safety, the proponent must decide whether or not it is significant by using criteria defined in the CSM-RA. If the change is significant, the proponent must apply the risk management process according to Implementing Regulation (EU) No 402/2013. If change is non-significant, the proponent will not be obliged to apply the risk management process. However, it is recommended to use the process to manage non-significant safety risks. The proponent must keep a record of how he/she arrived at his/her decision.

Technical changes

Technical changes are changes taking place in a structural sub-system, such as new rolling stock (or a renewal on it) or a new signal system (or a renewal on it). Technical changes should also be reviewed to determine if changes are made in the operation of the sub-system under consideration (functional changes).

Operational changes

Changes in the operation of a structural sub-system, changes in the operation of the rail system, or changes in the rules of operation of the rail system can be considered. Operational changes are often the result of technical changes in a sub-system. In fact, technical changes are made frequently in order to offer a desired operational change.

Of course, changes in the operation of a sub-system, the operation of the rail system, or the operating rules of the rail system can also be introduced without a change of technical type. If the change has an impact on safety, the proponent must decide whether or not it is significant. Only if they are significant, risk management process of the CSM-RA will be mandatory. Whether change is non-significant, the proponent must keep a record of how he/she arrived at his/her decision.

Change in organization

Organizational changes are changes in the organization in the rail system that could have an impact on safety of the rail system.

An example is a change in the Safety Management System (SMS), from a structure and a culture based on a large number of mandatory rules, to a risk-based system. depending on a trained and competent staff with a small number of key principles. This could be a significant change related to safety and, therefore, should be evaluated using CSM-RA.

Where it is not necessary to apply Common Safety Methods (CSMs)?

Typically undergrounds and other light railway systems or isolated facilities without access to other rail lines. That is, networks functionally separated from the rest of the main train system and intended solely for the operation of local, urban or suburban passenger services, as well as transport companies operating exclusively on these networks. Historical, museum or tourist trains operating on their own networks are also excluded. Finally, nor does it apply to privately owned infrastructures that exist solely for use by the infrastructure owner and for their own cargo operations. For example, on tracks of a manufacturing company.

At Leedeo Engineering, we are specialists in the development of RAMS Railway projects, applying CENELEC standards EN 50126, EN 50129, EN 50128, EU Implementation Regulation 402/2013 with the application of the Common Safety Methods CSM-RA, supporting any level required to RAM and Safety tasks, in the development and certification of safety products and applications.

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