This month, UIC issued its yearly report on Railway Accidents 2014 in Europe. The UIC Safety Database has been collecting data since 2001 and now contains data from 22 European UIC member railways. 4.1 billion train-kilometres in the year 2014 were operated on the networks, with 400 billion passenger-kilometres of traffic volume and more than 200 billion tonne-kilometres. The database managed by the Safety Unit aims to create an inventory of information containing not only accident statistics, but comprehensive detail about causes, circumstances and consequences of accidents.
Rail transport is the safest land transport mode and continuously improves its safety. The efforts of the UIC Safety Database Members to optimise safety levels in all fields of railway operation have led to a 33% decrease in fatalities since 2006.
One new feature of this year´s report is the UIC Global Safety Index (GSI). The GSI reflects more than the number of events: each accident is weighted according to type of accident, number and category of victims, and responsibility. This allows the overall safety trend to be depicted without being excessively influenced by isolated, infrequent major events.
The UIC Global Safety Index (GSI) shows that the positive trend of railway safety in Europe continues. The many safety-related initiatives taken by the railways are bearing fruit amongst the 22 members of the UIC Safety Database.
Railway accidents causing fatalities
The graph show that less than 1% of the fatalities in 2014 were passengers, 2% were staff and the remaining 97% were mostly trespassers (any person present on railway premises where such presence is forbidden) and level crossing users (any person using a level crossing to cross a railway line by any means of transport or walking).
By comparison, “CARE” (the official road accidents database at DG MOVE) shows that 25,700 road fatalities happened in the EU 27 during the year 2014.
Main causes of significant railway accidents in 2014
From the figure above, it is possible to note that 82% of all accidents had external causes in 2014.
Most of these accidents were caused by trespassers and level crossing users.
In fact, only the 18 % of the total significant accidents recorded in the UIC Safety Database had internal causes comprising technical, organisational and human failures inside of the railway operation system, which includes passengers and other rail users.
The UIC Safety Database Report is available at: http://safetydb.uic.org
The UIC Safety Unit is also the coordinator of the “International Level Crossing Awareness Day” (ILCAD) with the objective to further improvement of safety at level crossings.
Activities in the UIC Rail System Department (Infrastructure, Rolling Stock, and Signalling) are also linked to further improvement of safety in the railway sector.
Some projects of the UIC Security Unit also have interfaces to railway safety.
Members of the UIC Safety Database are:
ADIF (Spain), ADIF-AV (Spain), CFL (Luxembourg), CFR-SA (Romania), DB AG (Germany), Eurotunnel, HZ (Croatia), Network Rail (UK), Infrabel (Belgium), JBV (Norway), MAV (Hungary), ÖBB (Austria), PKP (Poland), ProRail (Netherlands), REFER (Portugal), SNCF Network (France), RFI/FS (Italy), SBB (Switzerland), SZ (Slovenia), SZDC (Czech Republic), Trafikverket (Sweden), ZSR (Slovakia)