October 17, 2014

European railway fatalities rise in 2013

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FOLLOWING a number of serious accidents in 2013, the positive trend showing a reduction in accidents and improving passenger safety on European railway networks was halted in the International Union of Railways (UIC) 2014 Railway Accidents in Europe annual report issued on October 17.

There were a total of 1074 railway-related deaths in 2013 compared with 1011 in 2012, although this figure is an improvement on 2011's figure of 1095 deaths. In total 96 passengers were killed in 2013 compared with 32 in both 2012 and 2011. Trespasser deaths also increased to 643 from 595 the previous year. However, the number of level crossing user deaths fell to 279 from 329 in 2012 and 280 in 2011. Staff deaths were also down at 27 compared with 44 in 2012 and 28 in 2011.

The report compiles data from 21 European UIC member states and found that 4.1 billion train-km were operated in 2013, with 7.2 billion passengers and 900 million tonnes of freight carried.

The database is managed by the UIC Safety Unit and aims to create an inventory of information containing not only accident statistics but the causes, circumstances and consequences of accidents. The study found that 82% of all accidents had an external cause in 2013, with most caused by trespassers and level crossing users. Only 18% of the total significant accidents were caused by technical, organisational and human failures within the railway organisation.

The UIC says that efforts by the UIC Safety Database Members to optimise safety levels in all fields of railway operation have led to a 20% fall in fatalities since 2009.

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