This month, 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 22 European UIC member railways. 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 -14% drop in accidents compared to 2014 and -32% since 2006.
80% of accidents are due to external causes. Most of these accidents were caused by trespassers and level crossing users. In fact, only the 20% of the total significant accidents recorded in the UIC Safety Database had internal causes comprising technical, organisational and human failures within the railway operation system, which includes passengers and other rail users.
The graph shows that for every 20 fatalities in 2015, one is a passenger or an employee and 19 are third parties, 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).
It should be noticed that collisions between trains and derailments resulted in one sole fatality (of a train driver) in the 2014-2015 period.
UIC Global Safety Index
Since last year, the report presents the new Global Safety Index (GSI). The GSI reflects more than the number of events: each accident is weighted according to type of accident, number and category of victims, and responsibility. This allows the overall safety trend to be depicted without being excessively influenced by isolated, infrequent major events.
The GSI shows that the positive trend in Europe of accidents continues. The many safety-related initiatives taken by the railways are bearing fruit amongst the 22 members of the UIC Safety Database.
The UIC Safety Report 2016 may be downloaded at http://safetydb.uic.org