Wednesday 16 June 2021

UIC publishes first edition of IRS 70779-9, “Safety in railway tunnels”

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UIC develops and publishes IRSs to help railway stakeholders to achieve greater harmonisation and efficiency in railway planning, design and daily operation.

As IRSs are gradually replacing UIC leaflets, the PoSE (Panel of Structural Experts) within the Rail System Department’s Infrastructure Sector has been collaborating to provide recommendations and clarifications with regard to the migration of UIC Leaflet 779-9 to the new IRS 70779-9, published in June 2021.

The first edition of IRS 70779-9 is a compendium of possible measures to increase safety in railway tunnels, reflecting the best practices of European railways. All measures are described in detail, considered in terms of their cost-effectiveness and accompanied by recommendations.

This IRS covers new and existing railway tunnels over 1 km in length, mixed passenger/freight traffic and normal operating conditions (up to 200 trains/day) in the fields of infrastructure, rolling stock and operations. It does not cover underground platforms and subways in urban areas.

The main risks in tunnels that are considered are fire, collision and derailment. Because of their potentially catastrophic consequences, fires in passenger trains are seen as the major risk and the set of measures proposed focuses on this type of accident.

Safety in tunnels is the result of an optimal combination of infrastructure, rolling stock and operational measures. A general principle shared by all railways can be summarised as follows: prevent accidents, mitigate their impact, and facilitate self-rescue and rescue of others.

These actions are listed in descending order in terms of their effectiveness, particularly in the event of fire.

The IRS is available from the UIC ETF Shop:

UIC is truly grateful for the consensus achieved in producing this IRS and the PoSE’s valuable encouragement and commitment to contributing to sharing and harmonisation of good practices, helping to ensure that IRSs are as universal as possible.

For further information, please contact Mercedes Gutiérrez, Infrastructure and TTI Senior Advisor, at


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