Travelling by train is one of the safest modes of transport, accidents are rare and are significantly more survivable than road or air accidents. Rail safety falls under the remit of three bodies, The Department of Transport, The Railway Safety Commission and The Railway Ancident Investigation Unit. Full contact details contact details for rail safety issues and inquiries may be found here.
The Railway Safety Commission was founded under the Railway Safety Act (2005). The Railway Safety Commission is responsible for all matters of safety relating to rail based transport which includes passenger and freight as well as heritage lines. The Railway Accident Investigation Unit investigates incidents and accidents. Its aim is not to apportion blame but to make safety recommendations as to prevent future accidents.
Your principle point of contact if you witness something that is unsafe is that of a member of staff of the operator e.g. Iarnród Éireann, Veolia (Luas). If you are unhappy with the operators response you should consider contacting The Railway Safety Commission directly. It is important to note the specifics of any incident, date, time, location, train(s) involved and any other potentially useful information e.g. weather conditions. We encourage members of the public to capture these events using the camera built into many mobile phones.
The railway safety commission have produced a guide for passengers, Rail Users Ireland provided two rounds of comprehensive feedback and comments on the drafts of the passenger safety guide during the initial closed consultation, having being contacted by the Railway Safety Commission. The vast majority of our comments have been incorporated in the final version.
We recommend that all passengers take a few moments to read through the guide. Although accidents are rare, prompt and correct action may make the difference.
You can access the passenger guide from the Railway Safety Commission's website here. Other guides, including one for level crossing users are available from the Railway Safety Commission's website www.rsc.ie
For some practical advice on dealing with a coach lying at an angle, we recommend a read of this. If you ever have to escape in an emergency, bare in mind two key points.
- To break a window you should strike close to the corner of the window, which outwardly illogical the corner is under more stress than the centre and will result in an instant shattering of the glass.
- The emergency release handle or button for the doors, does not open the door, it just unlocks the door. Use the handholds to push the door out and slide.
The Railway Safety Commission has produced a set of 8 documents detailing relevant safety guidance across all areas of rail operations and design including tramways and metro. The index of these documents may be found here.
Upon foundation the Railway Safety Commission commissioned a report into the safety and procedures within Iarnród Éireann this was combined with the interaction required between the Railway Safety Commission while dealing with Iarnród Éireann the largest of the operators it will deal with.
The document: Review of Railway Safety and of the Role and Function of the Railway Safety Commission by Arthur D Little Limited, is available from the RSC http://www.rsc.ie/uploads/RSC/FunctionRailwaySafetyCommission.pdf.
The most recent accident statistics for Iarnród Éireann are available through The Railway Safety Commission http://www.rsc.ie/uploads/rsc/AccidentStatistics.pdf.
Following the derailment of an intercity passenger train near Knockcroghery in 1997 a major safety audit was initiated. These audits showed a network on the edge of collapse in no small part due to lack of adequate funding from central government. The publication of the 1998 audit led to the OnTrack 2000 program which ushered an era of unprecedented infrastructural investment to address the failings identified in audits.
- Implications of the Delay in the Implementation of the Mini-CTC Project, July 2001
- A Review of Railway Safety in Ireland - Second Implementation Review, April 2001
- A Review of Rail Safety in Ireland - Implementation Review, March 2000
- A Review of Rail Safety in Ireland, October 1998
There exists an obligation on the Railway Procurement Agency to produce regular safety reports:
Rail Users Ireland has been unable to obtain any of these reports indeed we now believe that in fact the RPA have not produced such in line with there statutory obligations. In light of a number accidents on the Luas system and the acknowledged issue with the track design Rail Users Ireland has requested to obtain copies the RPA have not responded to these requests. This matter will be brought to the attention of the Minster for Transport.
Following a major accident a formal investigation procedure is initiated. The Railway Accident Investigation Branch of the Railway Safety Commission will investigate incidents and accidents under the terms of the Railway Safety Act 2005. The last fatality accident took place south of Cherryville Junction, Kildare on August 21st 1983.
Reports following the establishment of the RAIU are available from http://pdb.era.europa.eu/safety_docs/naib/default.aspx
Reports prior to the RAIU establishment:
- Inquiry into the Derailment of a Freight Train at Cahir Viaduct on 7th October 2003
- Interim Report into Cement Train Derailment at the Suir River Viaduct on 7 October 2003
- Inquiry into the Level Crossing Collision at Kiltoom on the Westport Line 16 February 2001
- Report into Cherryville Railway Accident, 21st August, 1983
- Report into Buttevant Railway Accident, 1st August, 1980
- Report on the Collision that occurred on 20th December 1978 at Lisburn Station