Fatal European railway accidents: 1967-2005

Evans, Andrew W. and Blainey, Simon P. (2007) Fatal European railway accidents: 1967-2005. In, 39th Annual Conference of the Universities' Transport Study Group, Leeds, GB,


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Fatal train collisions and derailments are important events. They are well documented in Great Britain, mainly due to the work of HM Railway Inspectorate over many decades. However, there are no comprehensive data on fatal train accidents in Europe, even though the railways of Europe may have much to learn from each other, and rail safety regulation is currently tending to move from the level of national governments towards the institutions of the European Union.

Given the public interest in railway accidents, the many fatal collisions and derailments are reported in the press. Furthermore, there are now available long runs of electronically searchable newspaper archives, notably in Britain of The Times. This makes it possible to explore the possibility of constructing and analysing a dataset of European fatal railway accidents based on press reports. The following three tasks are necessary to do this. (1) Defining search terms and using these to extract accounts of relevant railway accidents; (2) Estimating the numbers of accidents and fatalities that are missing from these press reports by country; (3) Using the results to analyse the comparative safety performance of Great Britain and other European railways.

This paper presents the results of an exploratory study of doing this. The number of fatal collisions and derailments resulting in fatalities to train occupants in the EU15 plus Switzerland and Norway in 1967 to 2005 is estimated to have been about 700, of which 450 were reported in the English press, and 250 were not. Of these, about 90 occurred in Great Britain. The fatal accident rate per train-km has fallen substantially over the period both in Britain and in the rest of Europe.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
Subjects: T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Civil Engineering and the Environment
ePrint ID: 73791
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2007Delivered
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:06
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/73791

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