Railway turnouts are a necessary part of railway infrastructure, used throughout the network to direct trains to the desired path, thus ensuring the smooth running of every train. Their reliability and availability is therefore an essential element for the efficiency of the entire network. However, the combination of movable parts, some of which with reducing cross sections and structural integrity, discontinuities in the rail geometry and variability in the system support stiffness leads to high failure rates compared with plain line track and to very high maintenance and renewal costs. In this paper, the database of failures occurred in the GB network between 2011 and 2017 has been statistically investigated with the support of free-text analysis techniques to interrogate the comments provided by the on-track maintenance staff. The key failures and possible causes have been identified for both the switch and crossing panels as well as areas for future research to support the development of the next generation of switches and crossings.