UIC says that although a total of 4077 serious incidents were recorded in 2019 across all members of the index, the number of incidents has proportionally decreased.
Among established members, whose membership to the UIC safety index predates 2013, the number of significant accidents recorded fell by 11%, from 1746 incidents in 2018 to 1560 in 2019.
This continues a broader trend in established members, in which the number of serious incidents has fallen by 24% since 2014.
UIC says that due to an influx of new index members since 2014, it appears as if more incidents are occurring, when in actuality the result reflects the expanded pool of available data.
Among new members who submitted safety data for 2019, 2517 incidents were recorded, rising from 2387 in 2018.
Four new infrastructure managers contributed data for the first time this year: the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Authority (FTIA), Saudi Railway Company (SAR), Ukrainian Railways (UŽ), and Setrag, Gabon.
Causes of incidents
UIC says that around 75% of significant incidents recorded in 2019 were caused by people trespassing on rail infrastructure and 15% were caused by accidents at level crossings. 7% of incidents were attributed to internal causes relating to technical or organisational failures or human factors within the rail system. 2% of incidents were caused by weather and environmental conditions, and 1% were caused by people being hit on a platform or falling from a train or platform.
The figures for incident causes remains comparable with those reported for 2018, where 74% of incidents were caused by trespassing and 15% were caused by level crossing accidents.
Around 98% of all fatalities in 2019 were third parties unaffiliated with railways. UIC says that it is imperative that public authorities play their part to educate and raise awareness of the risks involved in rail, and continue to ensure that railway infrastructure is secured from uncivil behaviour by third parties.
Global Safety Index
UIC says that its Global Safety Index, which weights each accident recorded according to the cause, type, frequency and victim category, is continuing to decline over time, with the overall index decreasing from 15.36 in 2018 to 15.11 in 2019, despite the addition of the four new members.
The safety index reports a rating of 7.56 for established members in 2019, and 7.55 for new members.
UIC also says that since 2019 is the last year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the results for 2020 will not be comparable with previous years due to the travel restrictions imposed in the majority of countries.
Members of UIC’s safety database
Eurotunnel (France and Britain)
Network Rail (Britain)
Bane Nor (Norway)
SNCF Network (France)
SZDC (Czech Republic)
RAS-EL (Greece), and
New members in 2020:
SETRAG (Gabon), and
SAR (Saudi Arabia).