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How to demonstrate good governance

As mentioned, rail participants must be able to demonstrate that the governance of their organisation ensures their rail activities are consistently as safe as they can be.

The key methods to do this are outlined below.

Within your safety case

In order to be approved, your safety case must demonstrate:

  • how the governing body takes ownership of the safety case
  • how the governing body oversees these rail activities
  • how safety policies are developed and applied
  • the way resources are allocated, and
  • how the focus on safety is communicated within the organisation.

The section should also outline the governance arrangements your organisation has in place, including:

  • whether you’re governed directly by owners or there is a board or committee in place
  • whether you’re part of a larger, parent organisation (and if so, how they influence decisions)
  • any other organisations involved with or affected by your operations
  • how different rail activities may be separated into teams, sections or groups
  • where the functions of safety and assurance sit, and
  • what the makeup of staff is (ie paid, volunteers or a mix of both).

For more information on safety cases, see our Rail safety cases section.

During assessments and internal audits

The Transport Agency undertakes ordinary and special safety assessments on a risk-based schedule covering all licence holders. These assessments give you, as the licence holder, the opportunity to show that you’re safe and prove you’re fulfilling the commitments outlined in your safety case.

While your safety case contains high-level statements and descriptions about how you manage safety, your safety system contains the standards, policies and procedures (details). These are reviewed during assessments to check appropriateness and compliance, and to confirm they are put into practice.

The internal audit your organisation undertakes should provide you with the assurance that you’re able to verify and demonstrate you’re fulfilling your commitments before a Transport Agency assessment. By looking at your operations and practices regularly, in depth and in detail, you give yourself the opportunity to correct anything that’s not right before it’s too late.


Ensuring you have the documentation that allows your practices to be verified will not only stand you in good stead for assessments, but also enable you to demonstrate good governance.

Good business documentation benefits the governance of your organisation by:

  • allowing assessors to see how your governing body endorses good practice and is able to make good decisions
  • giving you the ability to provide accurate reports that demonstrate you’re meeting your safety obligations
  • providing clarity around responsibilities for staff and those you work with (eg policies, procedures, accountability matrix), and
  • allowing you to streamline your processes and ensure you’re endorsing best practice and continuous improvement.