Act on Notification, Reporting and Investigation of Railway Accidents and Railway Incidents etc. (Railway Investigation Act)

Act on Notification, Reporting and Investigation of Railway Accidents and Railway Incidents etc. (Railway Investigation Act)

(This translation is for information purposes only)

Cf. EEA Agreement annex XIII point 42e (Directive 2004/49/EC)

Chapter 1 Introductory provisions

Section 1 Purpose of the Act

The purpose of this Act is to improve safety and prevent railway accidents through the investigation of railway accidents and railway incidents.

Section 2 Scope of the Act and exceptions

The Act applies to railways, including tramways, underground railways, suburban railways and similar modes of guided transport encompassed by the Railways Act.

The ministry may in regulations lay down further provisions concerning which railways are encompassed by the present Act, including provisions excepting certain types of railways from the scope of the Act.

Section 3 Investigating authority’s tasks and independence

Responsibility for investigation of railway accidents and railway incidents shall rest with the authority prescribed by the ministry.

The investigating authority shall clarify the chain of events and causes, elucidate factors of significance for preventing railway accidents and issue an investigation report as mentioned in section 19.

The investigating authority shall not be concerned with apportioning blame or liability under civil or criminal law. The investigation shall be accomplished independently of any other investigation or enquiry conducted entirely in part to that end.

Each year the investigating authority shall publish a report accounting for the investigations carried out in the preceding year, the safety recommendations that were issued and actions taken in accordance with recommendation issued previously.

The ministry may lay down supplementary regulations on the investigating authority’s work, including on cooperation and exchange of information with other countries and international organisations to the extent required under international agreements which Norway has entered into.

Section 4 Supervisory authority’s tasks

The supervisory authority as mentioned in the Railways Act section 11 shall evaluate the reports issued by the investigating authority with a view to identifying and initiating measures able to improve railway safety. The supervisory authority may order whoever is engaged in railway operation under the Railways Act to act on safety recommendations.

The ministry may lay down supplementary recommendations on the supervisory authority’s work under the present Act, including on cooperation and exchange of information with other countries and international organisations to the extent required under international agreements which Norway has entered into.

Section 5 Definitions

In this Act:

a) “Railway accident” means an unwanted or unintended sudden event or a specific chain of such events which have harmful consequences, including death or serious injury, extensive damage to rolling stock, the infrastructure, property outside the railway or the environment, and any other similar accident.

b) “Railway incident” means any unwanted event other than a railway accident, associated with the operation of trains and affecting the safety of operation.

c) “Serious railway incident” means an unwanted event which under slightly different conditions might have led to a railway accident.

d) “Railway operation” means operation of infrastructure, rail traffic control and rail transport services.

The ministry may lay down regulations specifying and supplementing the definitions in the first paragraph, and may lay down supplementary provisions on what is meant by infrastructure, rail traffic control and rail transport services in d).

Chapter II. Notification of railway accidents and incidents etc.

Section 6 Obligation to notify railway accidents

Employees in rail transport services who are involved in a railway accident shall promptly inform the nearest rail traffic control unit, the nearest police authority or the nearest joint rescue coordination centre of the accident. However, this does not apply if the employee is aware that notification has already been given.

The duty to notify under the first paragraph also applies to anyone who witnesses a railway accident unless the witness has reason to assume that such notification is unnecessary in the circumstances.

Whenever the nearest rail traffic control unit, the nearest police authority or the nearest joint rescue co-ordination centre is notified of a railway accident, the authority concerned shall promptly notify the other authorities mentioned and shall also alert the investigating authority and the supervisory authority. However, this does not apply if the authority is aware that notification has already been given.

The ministry may lay down further regulations on the duty to notify under the first paragraph and to forward notification under the third paragraph.

Section 7 Obligation to notify serious railway incidents

Should a serious railway incident occur, whoever is engaged in railway operation shall promptly notify the investigating authority of the incident. The investigating authority shall notify the supervisory authority.

The ministry may in regulations provide that a special obligation to notify shall also apply under the first paragraph to personnel:

a) who perform rail traffic control,

b) who drive rolling stock,

c) who perform or are in charge of shunting at or near a station or within a side track area,

d) who perform rail traffic safety tasks on board a train, including emergency tasks,

e) who are responsible for safety in connection with work and activity on and near rail track, and

f) who perform maintenance of rolling stock or infrastructure.

The ministry may lay down further regulations on the obligation to notify and to forward notification under this paragraph.

Chapter III. Reporting and gathering of information on railway accidents and incidents etc.

Section 8 Reporting of information

Whoever is engaged in railway operation is obliged to report information on railway accidents and railway incidents to the investigating authority and the supervisory authority.

The ministry may in regulations provide that a special obligation to notify shall also apply under the first paragraph to personnel:

a) who perform rail traffic control,

b) who drive rolling stock,

c) who perform or are in charge of shunting at or near a station or within a side track area,

d) who perform rail traffic safety tasks on board a train, including emergency tasks,

e) who are responsible for safety in connection with work and activity on and near rail track, and

f) who perform maintenance of rolling stock or infrastructure, and any other parties who are involved in railway operation, including manufacturers of railway material.

The ministry may in regulations lay down further provisions on the obligation to report under the first and second paragraph, including provisions on the information which shall be reported, the authorities to whom reports shall be made and the manner in which this shall be done.

Section 9 Use of data from systems which record sound and images

The investigating authority shall have access to data from any system for continuous or regular registration of sound and images from the driver’s compartment on a train, but is not entitled to turn over such material to other parties. A transcript of recorded sound or a copy of images may never the less be turned over for use as evidence in criminal or civil proceedings if so ordered by the court. The court may only approve turning over under the second sentence where the need for such turning over in the concrete case outweighs the risk that the turning over will complicate the investigating authority’s work on the case concerned or future national or international investigations.

The ministry may in regulations decide which systems for recording sound and images are encompassed by the first paragraph.

Chapter IV. Investigation of railway accidents and incidents etc.

Section 10 Obligation to investigate

The investigating authority shall investigate railway accidents and serious railway incidents.

The ministry may in regulations prescribe that the investigating authority shall investigate railway incidents other than those mentioned in the first paragraph.

Section 11 Start-up of investigation and extent of the investigation

Where the investigating authority has received notification of a railway accident under section 6 or of a serious railway incident under section 7, it shall promptly decide whether there is a need to start an immediate investigation. Where the investigating authority receives a report under section 8, it shall without undue delay decide if and when an investigation shall be started.

The investigating authority shall, at its discretion, decide the extent of the investigation and the procedure to be followed in carrying out the investigation. In its decision the investigating authority shall inter alia take into account the lessons the investigation is expected to provide for the improvement of safety, the seriousness of the accident or incident, its impact on railway safety in general and whether it forms part of a series of accidents or incidents.

The investigating authority may without regard to previous decisions decide to investigate circumstances associated with one or more railway accidents or railway incidents.

The ministry may lay down supplementary regulations on the investigating authority’s tasks and competence under this section.

Section 12 Prohibition against removal of wreckage etc. and the need to restore rail traffic

Damaged rolling stock and infrastructure, wreckage or other items from such rolling stock or infrastructure and marks left by the accident must not be removed or interfered with without permission from the investigating authority or the police unless this is necessary in order to save or avert danger to life or property or to prevent the destruction or disappearance of items of significance to the investigation.

The investigating authority shall bring its investigation at the accident site to a conclusion as soon as possible to enable the operator of the infrastructure to restore rail traffic.

Section 13 Measures to obtain information                 

The investigating authority has the right to avail itself of private land and may demand to examine and take possession of rolling stock and infrastructure, wreckage, documents and other objects to the extent it needs to do so to perform its task. To this end the investigating authority shall be afforded access to the results of examinations of persons involved in the accident or incident and to the results of examination of the bodies of victims. It may order persons to undergo medical examination pursuant to the rules of the Aviation Act section 6-11 third paragraph. The investigating authority may if necessary request police assistance.

Section 14 Obligation to make a statement to the investigating authority etc.

It is incumbent on all parties to provide the investigating authority, upon request and irrespective of any confidentiality requirement, with any information they possess on circumstances which may be of significance for the investigation. Whoever makes a statement is entitled to the assistance of a lawyer or other person when making such a statement.

Section 15 Taking of evidence

The investigating authority may require evidence to be taken out of court under the rules of chapter 20 of the Act relating to Judicial Procedure in Civil Cases, irrespective of the conditions otherwise applying under section 267 of the same Act to the right to require the taking of evidence.

Section 16 Rights of affected parties

Whenever the investigating authority starts an investigation, it shall as far as possible inform the operator of the railway operation in question, victims and their relatives, owners of damaged property, manufacturers, the emergency services involved, representatives of staff and users, as well as any others affected by the case, of the start-up of the investigation. Such information shall be given as soon as possible, and shall state the rights that apply under the second paragraph of this section and under section 20 first paragraph.

Before the investigation is completed, those referred to in the first paragraph shall be given an opportunity to submit information and their views on the railway accident or incident and its causes. They shall also be regularly informed of the investigation and its progress and, as far as practicable, shall be given an opportunity to submit their opinions and views to the investigation. Moreover, they should also be allowed to be present during the investigation and be entitled to acquaint themselves with the documents to the extent that the investigating authority deems that this can be done without impeding the investigation. The third sentence applies subject to the constraints arising from the duty of confidentiality, cf section 17.

The ministry may lay down supplementary regulations to this section.

Section 17 Duty of confidentiality

Anyone who performs service or work for the investigating authority is bound to confidentiality under the Public Administration Act in regard to information to which they become privy in the course of their work. However, the Public Administration Act section 13b) first paragraph no. 6 does not apply.

Whenever persons as mentioned in the first paragraph receive information that is subject to a stricter duty of confidentiality than that which follows from the Public Administration Act, a correspondingly strict duty of confidentiality shall apply unless weighty public considerations warrant the disclosure of the information or the information is necessary in order to explain the cause of the railway accident or railway incident.

Persons as mentioned in the first paragraph are also bound to confidentiality in regard to all information reported under section 8, and information emerging during a statement made to the investigating authority under section 14. This does not apply where weighty public considerations warrant the disclosure of the information or the information is necessary in order to explain the cause of the railway accident or railway incident.

The duty of confidentiality mentioned in the second and third paragraph shall not prevent the information from being disclosed the consent of the party who is entitled to confidentiality, provided the information is in statistical form or is generally available elsewhere.

Information that is confidential under the third paragraph may be disclosed to foreign and international authorities and organisations where this is provided for by international agreements entered into by Norway.

Section 18 Information to the supervisory authority

The investigating authority shall keep the supervisory authority continually informed of circumstances brought to light in the course of the investigation, and of its own preliminary evaluations thereof, to the extent this is deemed necessary for railway safety.

Section 19 Investigation report

Whenever the investigating authority has investigated a railway accident or serious railway incidents, it shall prepare a report which accounts for the chain of events and contains the investigating authority’s statement on the causes. The report shall state the purpose of the investigation, cf section 1. The report shall also, in so far as a purpose is served, contain possible recommendations by the investigating authority regarding measures which should be taken or considered for the purpose of preventing similar accidents or serious incidents in the future.

The report shall not contain references to individual persons’ name or address.

The investigating authority’s decision under this section may not be appealed.

Section 20 Treatment of draft investigation report

Before the investigating authority finalises the report, a draft version of the report shall be made available to persons as mentioned in section 16 first paragraph allowing a reasonable period for those concerned to comment, unless special conditions indicate that this should not be done. The draft report shall be submitted to the State Railway Inspectorate allowing a reasonable period for comment. The right under the first sentence only applies to those parts of the draft report which the person concerned, due to his connection with the case or the investigation, is particularly qualified to comment on.

The investigating authority’s decision under this section may not be appealed.

Section 21 Draft investigation report barred from the public domain

The investigating authority’s draft report is not public.

Section 22 Prohibition against use as evidence in criminal proceedings

Information received by the investigating authority under sections 8 or 14 may not be used as evidence in any subsequent criminal proceedings against the person who provided the information.

Chapter V. Supervisory authority’s use of information etc.

Section 23 Duty of confidentiality

Anyone who performs service or work for the supervisory authority is bound to confidentiality under the rules of section 17 in so far as they are appropriate.

Section 24 Prohibition against use as evidence in criminal proceedings

Information received by the investigating authority under sections 8 or 14 may not be used as evidence in any subsequent criminal proceedings against the person who provided the information.

Chapter VI. Prohibition against sanctions from the employer

Section 25 Prohibition against sanctions from the employer

An employee who submits a report under section 8 or a statement under section 14 shall not as a result thereof be subjected to any form of sanctions by the employer. The first sentence does not apply to measures taken by the employer for the main purpose of improving the employee’s qualifications.

The first paragraph does not apply where the information received indicates that the employee does not fulfil health-related requirements for holding his position, or that the employee himself has displayed gross negligence with regard to the reported accident or incident. Nor does the first paragraph apply to circumstances related to the employee or his actions or omissions that have become known through other channels than the employee’s report or statement as mentioned in the first paragraph.

Chapter VII. Removal of wreckage outside the infrastructure

Section 26 Removal of wreckage outside the infrastructure etc.

Where rolling stock or parts of the infrastructure have landed outside the infrastructure, or wreckage or other objects from such rolling stock or infrastructure are an impediment to ordinary traffic or otherwise constitute a danger or inconvenience, the police may set a deadline for the owner, or the user, to rectify the circumstance. If the deadline is disregarded, the police may have the necessary steps taken at the owner’s or the user’s expense. If it is necessary in the interest of traffic flow or for other reason to step in immediately, the police may take action as mentioned without giving a deadline.

Chapter VIII. Final provisions

Section 27 Penalties

Whoever, through negligence or intent, violates provisions laid down in or pursuant to sections 6, 7, 8, 12 first paragraph, 14, 17, 23, 25 and 26 of this Act, or who is accessory to such violation, shall be punishable by fines unless the violation comes under a more stringent penal provision.

Section 28 Amendments to other Acts

The following amendments are made to the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Railways, including Tramways, Underground Railways and Suburban Railways etc., (Railways Act, No. 100 of 11 June 1993): - - -

Chapter V is revoked.

Section 29 Entry into force

This act enters into force immediately.

Section 30 Transitional arrangement

Regulations laid down in pursuance of the Railways Act chapter V remain in effect after the present Act enters into force.

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