The UIC Safety Database has been collecting accident data since 2001 from the railways in 24 European UIC member countries. Originally affiliated with the Infrastructure Unit, it is now part of the Safety Platform in the Fundamental Values Department. The goal of the database is to create an inventory of information about not only accident statistics, but comprehensive detail concerning causes, descriptions, severity and particularities of accidents. Every significant accident, meaning those causing personal injury, major costs, or disruptions to railways, is catalogued with a wealth of information. This data includes the type of line, location and rolling stock involved, the nature and cause of the accident with a verbal description, information about accident victims, and other categories of data which can be extracted and analysed in connection with various studies.
The Safety Database can be used by members to compare statistics and trends across Europe, and to identify particular risks or successes. The findings can lead to further avenues of inquiry with the ultimate goal being to reduce certain dangers or to learn from best practices of others.
Every year a report is published presenting the data concerning railway accidents for the previous year. One version is available to the public on the UIC web site (http://safetydb.uic.org/spip.php?article2), in which all statistics appear but the names of individual railways are left out. A confidential version, available only to database members, includes the names of the railways with their data, allowing benchmarking comparisons between railways. This year’s report has been changed in some ways from previous years, with more attention given to the distinction between accidents caused internally within the railway system and externally caused accidents. The success of the European database has led to discussions about the creation of similar databases for other world regions.