Safety is at the core of rail activity and forms part of the UIC Fundamental Values department within UIC. It is also a transverse subject. It plays a crucial role in the work of UIC activities: Passenger, Freight and Rail System.

UIC has an increasing role to play in helping its members to develop harmonised or compatible measures within a region to ensure the high level of safety expected from the railways, combined with constantly improving flexibility and competitiveness.

It will also facilitate the exchange of information, and lessons learned between regions between which there is little railway contact.

Safety for environment and neighbours, safety for passengers and customers are in most parts of the world right now very strong arguments in favour of developing the rail market share. Since all kinds of transport cross all borders, few national systems are able to manage safety in their country independently from other countries.

Key challenges facing this business

The scale of time appropriate for measuring the effects of changes on safety is not measured in weeks, months or even years. Usually based on quarterly or yearly reports, measures against or in favour of safety may appear as harmless or ineffective. Similarly when the safety level has visibly become too low, the time needed to reverse the trend might be too long to be acceptable by society.

Nevertheless, even if safety is a fundamental value of the railways, all over the world, safety might be seen as jeopardising the railways’ business. However, it simply determines the right for the railway to exist, to survive, to operate its business. If railways are perceived as a threat to the safety of neighbours, environment, customers or staff, society will choose not to use railways.

Reference to how the business is organised

The structure of safety activities at UIC is as follows:

  • The Safety Platform is an advisory body open to all UIC members with a core objective to put in place recommendations and actions to help control, mitigate or eradicate the risks and eliminate their underlying causes and effects.
  • The Safety Platform Core Group is a restricted group composed of safety directors (or equivalent) from member companies of UIC and the Safety Platform.
  • Safety Platform working groups:
    • System Safety Management Group (SSMG)
    • Human Factors Working Group (HFWG)
    • Occupational Health and Safety Group (OHSG)
    • Safety Performance Group (SPG)/Safety Database
    • International Rail Safety Network (IRSN)
  • Global Level Crossing activities
  • International Union of Railways Medical Services (UIMC)

Achievements to be highlighted

  • 8 consecutive editions of ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) in June.
  • 3 Workshops on “Comparative review of safety culture” in Paris
  • Workshop on “Safety Management and Human Factors” in June 2012 in Tunis

facts and figures

ILCAD 2016:
40 countries participated

Safety database:

  • 20 participating railway companies
  • 200 identified causes
  • 2000 declared events per year
  • 20000 records in the database


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