UIC Safety Database: a contribution to the 10th World Symposium on safety at level crossings


The International Union of Railways (UIC) in close cooperation with RFF (the French rail infrastructure manager) is preparing the 10th World Level Crossing Conference – “Level Crossing 2008” – that will take place at the UIC HQ, Paris, between June 24 and 27.

This global event focusing on the theme “Level Crossing – Safety and Trespass
Prevention,” will provide a unique opportunity to exchange information and best practices on all aspects of level crossing safety and railway policy aimed at preventing accidents at level crossings.

Current statistics show that level crossing accidents resulting in fatalities account for 27% of all railway accident fatalities. Participants to the symposium will be able to view a series of posters based on data from the UIC Safety Database giving the number of level crossing accidents, number of casualties, causes of accidents and statistical distribution of accidents across Europe.

Level crossing accidents are mainly due to road-user behavior, with a distinction between pedestrian or cyclists who do not represent a danger for the rail system itself, and other road users in cars, trucks and coaches/buses. All these categories of road user have to be considered individually in order to come up with the most appropriate prevention measures aimed at reducing the number of accidents and casualties.

Railway companies as well as rail infrastructure managers are strongly committed to improving customer and road-user safety, as well as to reducing the overall number of accidents, in particular at level crossings. Railways and rail infrastructure managers have identified the removal of level crossings and their replacement with footbridges, subways, etc., as one of the priorities.

The main purpose of rail accident data collection is to use available information to prevent future accidents happening and/or mitigate their effect. Data collection also helps to evaluate the potential benefits of new safety rules or protective technologies. It also aids better accident identification which is essential to avoid recurring accidents.

The UIC Safety Database is based on data collected from 24 European rail infrastructure managers including Norway and Switzerland. Data collected therefore represents 200,000 kilometers of railway line, 124,000 level crossings and 4,000 million kilometers of train movements per year. The UIC Safety Database has recorded more than 9,000 significant railway or level crossing accidents since 2003.