Safety is of course one of the most important subjects for any mode where the key objective is the transportation of people and products.
We are expected to deliver services to our customers at a high level of safety and the railway sector has been especially good at doing this for a long time; the figures speak for themselves.
Nevertheless, we find ourselves now in a world where the opening up of the commercial availability of railways and the search for an optimum level of safety, taking economic and organisational constraints into account, is a priority theme at the very heart of development strategy on all 5 continents.
Safety has always been seen as a transverse subject with no one area or discipline able to claim that they have a greater right to be the safety expert than any other. Whilst this still holds largely true, the challenges facing the railway today require that the focus on safety management and the systems employed to demonstrate a sound attitude towards safety, take on an entirely different position. The UIC has recognised this and whilst safety continues to play an important role in the work of the Passenger, Freight, Rail System Forum, a Safety Unit has been created to support all this work and to be in place to concentrate on the challenges that liberalisation and interoperability will bring to our members.
Concentrating principally on matters connected with the European dimension, this workstream is now at the centre of the Safety Unit of UIC to support the railway sector input into the development of the objectives of (the European Railway Agency).
This presents a considerable challenge for the UIC who, in liaison with other key associations in the rail sector will seek to influence development of the ERA ERA European Railway Agency so that the expertise and professional opinion of the rail industry is taken into account. It will be especially important to the rail sector that political decisions taken in respect to safety and interoperability remain compatible with the continued competitiveness of rail transport, an issue that is important to all the rail companies, be they Railway Undertakings or Infrastructure Managers. The UIC has always prided itself on its ability to draw together members from around the globe and set them to working together on projects of strategic importance through world-wide cooperation. Safety is a core theme traversing practically all of these international co-operation work and projects.
Safety is all around us and we need to strive to establish common management tools that will ensure that collectively the rail sector is all pulling in the same direction. In this context of ‘bridge building’ the UIC has a genuine responsibility to assume, as it brings together new interaction opportunities which can only go towards developing the overall safety culture within the ‘railway family’.
Through the pages of this website, all this development will be publicised so that we can collectively ensure we maintain and indeed strengthen the overall cohesion of the railway system. It is above all through this level of cohesive co-operation that we will collectively retain our premier position in relation to other modes of transport and safety.
As with many trade organisations on the world stage, there are a wealth of issues that it can become involved with but for which often the time and resources are simply not available. With this firmly in mind, the UIC has, for the first time and based on the areas that present the greatest risk to the continued enviable safety record of the rail industry, prepared a number of objectives to move the safety focus forward. These have been grouped around the core themes of ‘people’, ‘process’, ‘performance’ and ‘communication’.
Statistical analysis is one of the key methods to monitor safety performance levels and to benchmark trends within the industry and against other transport modes. The advent of the [UIC Safety Database] and the opportunities this presents will increase the future ability of the UIC in this field. It is anticipated that regular updates on the evolution of these two important areas will be presented through the pages of this website.