Safety in EU rail transport has steadily enhanced over the years: in 2013, the decline in number of accidents compared with 2012 could be established at 1.9 %, and the number of victims (killed or injured persons) has also decreased over the same period (-1.9 %), according to Eurostat recent annual statistics on rail transport accidents.
In 2013, there were 2 219 persons killed or seriously injured in railway accidents in the EU-28, around 1.9 % less than in 2012. Suicides are in principle excluded from these statistics, but not all Member States can identify them in the statistics sent to Eurostat.
A total of 2 137 significant train accidents were registered in the EU-28 in 2013, representing a decrease of 1.9 % compared to 2012: this is in line with the regular declining trend observed since 2004.
Poland, Germany, Spain and Romania accounted for more than half of all rail victims registered in the EU-28 in 2013. The picture is different when considering the average number of persons killed or injured per accident. The high ratio recorded by Estonia (7 persons killed or injured per accident) is not significant due to the fact that the country recorded only one accident in 2013. The rate observed in Spain (4.6) is by far above the EU-28 average (1.0): the figure for this country is especially influenced by the major accident having occurred in Santiago de Compostela on 24 July 2013. For all EFTA countries and Candidate countries this ratio is below the EU average with the exception of Turkey
For all participating countries except Belgium and Spain, the most common type of accident with victims relates to accidents caused by rolling stock in motion or to those happening at level-crossings. In 2013, these two categories represented 83.5 % of the total amount of victims and 90.6 % of the fatalities.
At country level, 229 fatalities were registered in Poland, 158 in Germany and 113 in Spain. For the two first countries, the majority of fatalities were linked to accidents caused by ‘rolling stock in motion’ (78 % for Poland, 72 % for Germany) while derailments represented 70% of the fatalities recorded by Spain.
Within the European Union, the highest share of fatalities due to collisions in the total number of fatalities was recorded in Austria (7 %), followed by Italy (3 %).
LOW NUMBER OF FATALITIES PER BILLION PASSENGER-KILOMETRES
As the number of passengers killed in rail accidents is very low each year, it is important to keep in mind that one single accident – or even one single victim – can have a big impact when comparing countries or the annual number of passengers killed per billion passenger-kilometres.
Spain registered the highest ratio in 2013 (3.46 passengers killed per billion passenger-kilometres) ahead of Hungary (0.51): all the other reporting countries recorded a ratio under 0.40 in 2013. For a large majority of countries, this indicator improved or remained constant between 2012 and 2013.