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Exploring the Railway System from a Risk Governance Perspective

Cedergren, Alexander LU (2013) In Report 1052
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Olyckor i järnvägssektorn kan ge upphov till katastrofala konsekvenser. I första hand kan människors liv och hälsa drabbas, men allvarliga konsekvenser kan även uppstå för samhället i stort. Detta beror på att järnvägssystemet, liksom en rad andra infrastruktursystem är väsentliga för att vårt moderna samhälle ska fungera. Under de senaste decennierna har dessa system blivit allt mer sammanlänkade med varandra. Å ena sidan har detta gett upphov till ökad effektivitet. Å andra sidan har det gjort dem mer sårbara för störningar, eftersom störningar i ett visst system lättare kan spridas till andra system. Samtidigt har ansvarsfördelningen för att driva och underhålla dessa system delats upp mellan... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Olyckor i järnvägssektorn kan ge upphov till katastrofala konsekvenser. I första hand kan människors liv och hälsa drabbas, men allvarliga konsekvenser kan även uppstå för samhället i stort. Detta beror på att järnvägssystemet, liksom en rad andra infrastruktursystem är väsentliga för att vårt moderna samhälle ska fungera. Under de senaste decennierna har dessa system blivit allt mer sammanlänkade med varandra. Å ena sidan har detta gett upphov till ökad effektivitet. Å andra sidan har det gjort dem mer sårbara för störningar, eftersom störningar i ett visst system lättare kan spridas till andra system. Samtidigt har ansvarsfördelningen för att driva och underhålla dessa system delats upp mellan allt fler parter, bland annat beroende av ökad avreglering av flera marknader. Denna trend är särskilt tydlig i järnvägssektorn, som gått från att vara ett statligt monopol till en marknad med fri konkurrens kring både transporter av passagerare och gods samt underhåll av själva infrastrukturen (t.ex. spår och signalsystem).



För att undvika olyckor eller allvarliga störningar är det väsentligt att kontinuerligt arbeta med frågor som rör risk och säkerhet. I takt med att allt fler organisationer blir ansvariga för olika delar av järnvägen blir det allt viktigare att dessa olika organisationer kan arbete effektivt tillsammans med hantering av risker. I denna avhandling studeras utmaningar med att hantera risker när flera olika organisationer är inblandade, och förslag ges på hur dessa utmaningar kan lösas.



En första utmaning med att hantera risker i sammanhang där många organisationer är inblandade är att dessa olika parter kan ha olika syn på vad som egentligen är en risk. En fallstudie av beslutsfattande under projektstadiet av järnvägstunnelprojekt visade att dessa olika synsätt på risker kan ge upphov till dödlägen i beslutsprocessen, vilket bland annat leder till att projekten försenas och att kostnaderna ökar. Denna fallstudie visade även att kommunala förvaltningar har stort inflytande i dessa projekt, vilket innebar att stort fokus hamnade på lokala frågor, snarare än varje tunnels betydelse för järnvägssystemets funktion och förmåga till återhämtning efter störningar ur ett regionalt eller nationellt perspektiv. För att kunna analysera risker och sårbarheter ur ett mer övergripande perspektiv utvecklades därför en metod för sårbarhetsanalys. Denna metod tog särskild hänsyn till att flera olika tekniska system är beroende av varandra för att järnvägssystemet ska fungera.



En annan utmaning kan uppstå när olika organisationer är ansvariga för olika steg i hanteringen av risker. Detta är fallet vid olycksutredningar efter allvarliga tågolyckor, då haverikommissionen genomför en utredning, medan rekommendationerna från denna utredning riktas till en annan myndighet som ska se till att enskilda företag eller myndigheter i sin tur utför de faktiska åtgärderna. När dessa olika organisationer har olika syn på varandras roller, eller när de olika stegen inte passar ihop, uppstår problem med att hantera risker i branschen som helhet. För att lösa problemen med att olika steg av hanteringen av risker inte alltid passar ihop presenteras ett tillvägagångssätt för att systematiskt studera och analysera hanteringen av risker i sammanhang där många parter är inblandade. Detta tillvägagångssätt bygger på att bryta ner hanteringen av risker i dess syfte, funktion och form.



En annan viktig aspekt av olycksutredningar handlar om synen på hur olyckor uppstår. Om man t.ex. antar att mänskliga fel ligger bakom olyckor så fokuserar en utredning på hur människor i olyckans närhet agerat för att på så sätt hitta en orsak. De senaste decenniernas forskning har dock lagt allt större vikt vid andra faktorer, såsom organisatoriska faktorer, eller till och med lagstiftningens roll. Trots detta visade en undersökning av olycksutredningar från tre länder att mycket stort fokus i olycksutredningar läggs vid hur människor agerat och funktionen i tekniska komponenter och annan utrustning, snarare än mer övergripande faktorer. Resultatet pekade också på att utredarna har en viss tendens att fokusera på sådana faktorer som ligger nära deras egen bakgrund och expertis. Av denna anledning förespråkar avhandlingen att haverikommissioner ska sträva efter en mångfald av kompetenser. Dessutom förespråkas att man ska försöka utnyttja fördelar som uppstår av att samla utredningsverksamhet för flera olika transportslag och sektorer i samma haverikommission, såsom möjligheter att utbyta erfarenheter och att hjälpa varandra med visst utredningsarbete. (Less)
Abstract
In recent decades, the Swedish railway system has faced substantial deregulations. As a result, management of risk is often carried out in settings involving multiple stakeholders having various roles, mandates, and viewpoints on risk, and where no single stakeholder has the superior authority. In order to manage risks in this type of multi-actor setting, the traditional elements of risk assessment, management and communication have been described as too narrow. In addition to these elements, the literature in the emerging field of risk governance emphasises the need to also take the social, institutional, legal, and economic contexts into consideration.



With this background as a point of departure, this thesis explores... (More)
In recent decades, the Swedish railway system has faced substantial deregulations. As a result, management of risk is often carried out in settings involving multiple stakeholders having various roles, mandates, and viewpoints on risk, and where no single stakeholder has the superior authority. In order to manage risks in this type of multi-actor setting, the traditional elements of risk assessment, management and communication have been described as too narrow. In addition to these elements, the literature in the emerging field of risk governance emphasises the need to also take the social, institutional, legal, and economic contexts into consideration.



With this background as a point of departure, this thesis explores challenges to risk governance in the Swedish railway system, and presents means to address these challenges. The term risk governance is used in a broad sense in the thesis. Rather than restricting the term to activities related to managing risks in a forward-looking perspective, it is also used to denote processes related to accident investigation and implementation of recommendations.



The findings include three main challenges to risk governance. The first challenge relates to dispersed responsibility, and refers to situations where the various stakeholders involved in the governance of risk have limited awareness, or diverse views, of each other’s roles and mandates. The second challenge to risk governance involves a fragmentation of the risk governance process. This challenge may arise when one step in the risk governance process is not fully connected to subsequent steps. The third challenge to risk governance relates to situations where the different stakeholders involved in decision-making over risks have diverse framings of the risk in question.



As a result of diverse framings of risk, controversies among the different stakeholders are likely to arise. This is often the case in risk-related decision-making at the design stage of Swedish railway tunnel projects, where power relations and precedents in many cases influence the outcome of the decision-making process. Moreover, due to the prominent role played by local stakeholders (municipal authorities) in these projects, substantial focus is directed at local matters of each railway tunnel. Because of this, the importance of each tunnel from a regional or national perspective, such as the railway system’s resilience to failures, receives less attention.



In order to proactively identify vulnerabilities of the railway system, and thus, to provide opportunities to strengthen the system’s resilience, a simulation-based method for vulnerability analysis of the railway system is presented. This method includes the creation of both a structural and a functional model of each of the seven sub-systems comprising the railway system, and these models are linked by so-called dependency edges. The method enables analysis of vulnerabilities from three different perspectives: global vulnerability analysis, critical component analysis, and geographical vulnerability analysis.



The problem related to fragmentation of the risk governance process is addressed by developing a conceptual framework that explicitly links the way risks are handled at the micro-level to aspects at the macro-level. The framework is influenced by design science, and it allows descriptive, evaluative, as well as normative approaches to analysing risk governance processes.



Finally, the thesis investigates the way accidents are framed in accident investigation reports. The results reveal that a majority of attributed causes in the accident investigation reports analysed in this thesis are identified at the micro-level. This means that a basis for learning mainly exists for factors at this level. Since the findings indicate that investigators are inclined to focus on areas of their own expertise, the importance of providing a diversity of competences among investigators, as well as the value of exploring the potential benefits associated with multi-modal accident investigation boards, is highlighted. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • professor Hovden, Jan, NTNU (Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet), Trondheim, Norway
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
risk governance, railway, framing, accident investigation, implementation, vulnerability, resilience, critical infrastructure
in
Report 1052
defense location
Lecture hall, IKDC, Sölvegatan 26, Lund University Faculty of Engineering
defense date
2013-12-10 10:15
ISSN
1402-3504
ISBN
978-91-7473-772-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f131a967-aa6c-4eae-8b20-8a35e024e7dc (old id 4146026)
date added to LUP
2013-11-08 14:57:54
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:59
@misc{f131a967-aa6c-4eae-8b20-8a35e024e7dc,
  abstract     = {In recent decades, the Swedish railway system has faced substantial deregulations. As a result, management of risk is often carried out in settings involving multiple stakeholders having various roles, mandates, and viewpoints on risk, and where no single stakeholder has the superior authority. In order to manage risks in this type of multi-actor setting, the traditional elements of risk assessment, management and communication have been described as too narrow. In addition to these elements, the literature in the emerging field of risk governance emphasises the need to also take the social, institutional, legal, and economic contexts into consideration.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
With this background as a point of departure, this thesis explores challenges to risk governance in the Swedish railway system, and presents means to address these challenges. The term risk governance is used in a broad sense in the thesis. Rather than restricting the term to activities related to managing risks in a forward-looking perspective, it is also used to denote processes related to accident investigation and implementation of recommendations. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
The findings include three main challenges to risk governance. The first challenge relates to dispersed responsibility, and refers to situations where the various stakeholders involved in the governance of risk have limited awareness, or diverse views, of each other’s roles and mandates. The second challenge to risk governance involves a fragmentation of the risk governance process. This challenge may arise when one step in the risk governance process is not fully connected to subsequent steps. The third challenge to risk governance relates to situations where the different stakeholders involved in decision-making over risks have diverse framings of the risk in question. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
As a result of diverse framings of risk, controversies among the different stakeholders are likely to arise. This is often the case in risk-related decision-making at the design stage of Swedish railway tunnel projects, where power relations and precedents in many cases influence the outcome of the decision-making process. Moreover, due to the prominent role played by local stakeholders (municipal authorities) in these projects, substantial focus is directed at local matters of each railway tunnel. Because of this, the importance of each tunnel from a regional or national perspective, such as the railway system’s resilience to failures, receives less attention.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In order to proactively identify vulnerabilities of the railway system, and thus, to provide opportunities to strengthen the system’s resilience, a simulation-based method for vulnerability analysis of the railway system is presented. This method includes the creation of both a structural and a functional model of each of the seven sub-systems comprising the railway system, and these models are linked by so-called dependency edges. The method enables analysis of vulnerabilities from three different perspectives: global vulnerability analysis, critical component analysis, and geographical vulnerability analysis.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The problem related to fragmentation of the risk governance process is addressed by developing a conceptual framework that explicitly links the way risks are handled at the micro-level to aspects at the macro-level. The framework is influenced by design science, and it allows descriptive, evaluative, as well as normative approaches to analysing risk governance processes.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Finally, the thesis investigates the way accidents are framed in accident investigation reports. The results reveal that a majority of attributed causes in the accident investigation reports analysed in this thesis are identified at the micro-level. This means that a basis for learning mainly exists for factors at this level. Since the findings indicate that investigators are inclined to focus on areas of their own expertise, the importance of providing a diversity of competences among investigators, as well as the value of exploring the potential benefits associated with multi-modal accident investigation boards, is highlighted.},
  author       = {Cedergren, Alexander},
  isbn         = {978-91-7473-772-1},
  issn         = {1402-3504},
  keyword      = {risk governance,railway,framing,accident investigation,implementation,vulnerability,resilience,critical infrastructure},
  language     = {eng},
  series       = {Report 1052},
  title        = {Exploring the Railway System from a Risk Governance Perspective},
  year         = {2013},
}