UIC’s safety database has been collecting data on significant accidents since 2006 and currently covers 31 UIC members in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Four new infrastructure managers began providing data to the UIC database in 2020: FtiA (Finland), UŽ (Ukraine), SETRAG (Gabon) and SAR (Saudi Arabia).
Number of significant accidents in 2019
Rail transport safety levels are steadily improving. With a total of 1,560 significant accidents recorded historically (members since at least 2013), the number of accidents fell by 11 per cent compared with 2018 and 24 per cent compared with 2014. The increased number of accidents among new members is due to the expanded scope.
Causes of accidents in 2019
Seventy-five per cent of accidents were caused by trespassing on railway infrastructure, and 15 per cent were caused by accidents at level crossings. No more than one per cent of accidents involved people being hit on a platform or falling from a train or platform. Only seven per cent of the significant accidents recorded in UIC’s safety database were attributed to internal causes relating to technical or organisational failures or human factors within the rail operation system; the remaining two per cent were caused by weather and environmental conditions. The predominance of individual accidents caused by third party trespassing is exacerbated by the inclusion of new members’ data.
The railway system is particularly vulnerable to the behaviour of people outside of the system: third parties represented 98 per cent of the fatalities recorded in 2019. It is imperative that public authorities play their part in promoting education and raising awareness of risk, and continue their efforts to protect the railways from uncivil behaviour by third parties, just as they have done for the road transport sector for many years.
UIC safety index
UIC’s safety index not only provides statistics on numbers of accidents; each accident is weighted according to cause, type, frequency and victim category. This approach enables deeper insight into general safety levels, considered separately from high-impact events, which are fortunately rare.
The safety index continues to decline and reached 7.56 in 2019, indicating an ongoing improvement in railway transport safety levels. The safety index for the new members – 7.55 in 2019 – can now be added to this score. In spite of the addition of four new members, the overall index decreased from 15.35 in 2018 to 15.11 in 2019: a slight decrease of 1.5 per cent.
2019 is the last year prior to Covid-19. It should be noted that the results for 2020 will not be comparable in any way with results in previous years due to the pandemic and the transport restrictions imposed in the majority of countries.
Members of UIC’s safety database
ADIF (Spain), ADIF-AV (Spain), CFL (Luxembourg), CFR-SA (Romania), CIE (Ireland), DB AG (Germany), HŽ (Croatia), Network Rail (UK), Infrabel (Belgium), IP (Portugal), BANE NOR SF (Norway), MAV (Hungary), ÖBB (Austria), PKP (Poland), ProRail (Netherlands), RAI (Iran), SNCF Réseau (France), FS RFI (Italy), SBB CFF FFS (Switzerland), SŽ (Slovenia), SŽ (Czech Republic, formerly SŽDC), TCDD (Turkey), Trafikverket (Sweden), ŽSR (Slovakia)
New members in 2019: RŽD (Russia), RAS-EL (Greece), KRRI (South Korea)
New members in 2020: FtiA (Finland), UŽ (Ukraine), SETRAG (Gabon) and SAR (Saudi Arabia).
Access the document
The UIC 2019 report on safety can be downloaded from: http://safetydb.uic.org