At the end of 2013, the International Union of Railways (UIC) issued its yearly report on Railway Accidents in Europe.
The UIC Safety Database has been collecting data since 2001 and now contains data from 21 European UIC member railways.
4.1 billion train-kilometres in the year 2012 were operated on the networks, carrying 7.5 billion passengers and 1 billion tonnes of freight.
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 the safety level in all fields of railway operation have led to a 21% decrease in fatalities since 2006.
The graph 1 shows that 3% of the fatalities in 2012 were passengers, 4% were staff and the remaining 93% 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 about 28,000 road fatalities occurred in the EU 27 during the year 2012.
Serious accidents will have a large effect on the trend in fatalities due to their relatively infrequent nature. Due to exceptional railway accidents in 2013, the positive trend in passenger fatalities will be affected.
From the graph 2, it is possible to note that 79% of all accidents had external causes in 2012.
Most of these accidents were caused by trespassers and level crossing users.
In fact, only 21% of the total significant accidents recorded in the UIC Safety Database had internal causes comprising technical, organisational and human failures inside the railway operation system.
The UIC Safety Database Report is available at: http://safetydb.uic.org
Activities in the UIC Rail System Department (Infrastructure, Rolling Stock, Signalling) are also linked to further improvement of safety in the railway sector.
A number of projects related to Railway Safety
The UIC is, among others, the coordinator of the following projects and activities with the objective to further improve safety:
RESTRAIL: “REduction of Suicides and Trespasses on RAILway property”
ILCAD: “International Level Crossing Awareness Day” Worldwide action on road and rail to reduce level crossing accidents
D-RAIL: “Development of the Future RAIL Freight System to reduce the Occurrences and Impact of Derailments”
SATLOC: “SATellite based Operation and Management of LOCal Low Traffics Lines”
Members of the UIC Safety Database are:
ADIF (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), RFF (France), RFI/FS (Italy), SBB (Switzerland), SZ (Slovenia), SZDC (Czech Republic), Trafikverket (Sweden), ZSR (Slovakia)