A comparative study from a competition perspective of mileage-related accidents caused by technical failure in vehicles/rolling stock and resulting in personal injury
The present study performs a comparison between the two modes of transport in terms of the number of persons killed as a result of accidents caused by technical failures in vehicles or rolling stock. For the years 2006 to 2010, the average value for rail freight, expressed in terms of tonne-kilometres, is 0.018. This means that in the EU 273 in the years 2006 to 2010, on average 0.018 persons per billion tonne-kilometres (tkm) died as a result of rail freight accidents that had been caused by technical failures in rolling stock. In other words, in the rail freight sector during this period, one person died as a result of a technical failure in rolling stock every 55.5 billion tkm. It is worth noting that during the period covered by this study – i.e. 2006 to 2010– there was only one fatal accident (Viareggio in 2009 with 32 fatalities). Otherwise the calculations would have produced an indicator of zero for rail freight.
By comparison, the figure for corresponding fatalities per billion tonne-kilometres in road freight for the period 2006 to 2010 lies between 0.032 (lower assumption of 1%) and 0.162 (upper assumption of 5%), making it approx. 2 to 9 times as high as for rail freight. Once again, we can express this indicator another way by saying that in road freight one person died as a result of a technical failure in vehicles every 6.2 billion tkm to 31.2 billion tkm.
These indicators show that safety levels in rail freight, measured in terms of accidents caused by a technical failure in rolling stock, are currently very high. The fact that rail freight performs favourably compared with road freight should by no means serve to justify abandoning efforts designed to achieve continual improvements in the safety levels for rail freight. Rail accidents caused by technical failures in rolling stock should be ruled out as far as possible. A question does arise; however, as to how much technical, organisational and financial effort can and should be invested in further improving the already very high level of safety. The higher the cost of additional measures to enhance safety, the more pressing it becomes to answer this question.