Safety performance of EU railways further improving
European Railway Agency has published its fifth report on the development of railway safety in the EU. Railways are one of the safest modes of transport in the European Union and the safety performance continues to improve in recent years. Safety performance varies greatly between Member States; there is a ten-fold difference in risk between the safest and the least safe Member State. Overall, Member States reported 2 401 significant railway accidents with 2 500 casualties. The total number of significant accidents fell in 2010; however, no improvement was registered for the number of collisions and derailments.
According to the common safety indicator (CSI) data provided by the national safety authorities to the European Railway Agency, 1 256 people were killed and a further 1 236 seriously injured in 2010. While the number of fatalities is by far the lowest figure recorded since 2006, the number of serious injuries saw a slight increase in 2010. Of the 1 256 fatalities reported, 60 % (750) were third-party victims: unauthorised persons on railway premises. Single fatality accidents such as unauthorised persons being hit by rolling stock in motion or certain level-crossing accidents, form the major part of the fatalities. Train collisions, derailments and fires cause less than 3 % of the fatalities. Suicides on European railways are counted separately to other railway fatalities. Over 2 743 suicides were recorded in 2010; more than 50 per week on average.
After a 2 % drop in 2009, the traffic performance in 2010 has stagnated in terms of train kilometers, 4 019 million train-km in total were recorded on the EU railway network; 80% were passenger train kilometers.
The national investigation bodies have notified the Agency of 221 investigations of accidents and incidents that occurred during 2011. This is the highest number since 1996; however, the number of significant accidents investigated by investigation bodies is only a small part of the total number of serious accidents.
Since 2006, the European Railway Agency has been collecting railway safety data in the form of common safety indicators that were introduced by the Annex I of the Railway Safety Directive in 2004. Member States have a legal obligation to submit their CSI data for the preceding year to the Agency no later than on 30 September. The Agency first publishes the basic set of CSI data in November on its website, and later the full set of CSI data is published in the Railway safety performance report published in spring of the following year.