Fatal Train Accidents in Britain and Europe 2019

Fatal Train Accidents in Britain and Europe 2019

Professor Andrew Evans has produced his 2019 statistical analyses of train accidents in Europe and Great Britain. A summary of each  and links to the full reports are below.

Great Britain summary:

This paper updates the author’s previous statistical analyses of fatal train accidents on running lines of the national railway system of Great Britain to the end of 2019, based on fatal accident data over the 53-year period 1967 to 2019. There were no fatal train collisions, derailments or overruns in 2019 for the twelfth consecutive calendar year. That continuing good performance contributes to a further reduction in the estimated mean frequency of such accidents from 0.20 per year in 2017 to 0.17 in 2019. The estimated mean number of fatalities per year in such accidents fell from 0.81 in 2017 to 0.69 in 2019. There was one accidental fatal collision between a train and a road motor vehicle in 2018 with two fatalities, and none in 2019. This was in line with recent past performance. The estimated frequency of such accidents fell from 1.77 per year in 2017 to 1.60 per year in 2019, with 2.45 fatalities per year in 2017 compared with 2.23 in 2019. However, it should be noted that this paper does not include fatalities to pedestrians at level crossings. The long-term rate of reduction in the accident rate per train-kilometre is estimated to be 7.4% per year for train collisions, derailments and overruns, and 3.8% per year for collisions between trains and road motor vehicles. The paper examines the evolution of these estimates since 2001, and makes comparisons with results of the Safety Risk Model (SRM) of the Rail Safety and Standards Board. Both sources estimate long term reductions in mean fatalities per year in train collisions, derailments and overruns, but the SRM has consistently estimated more fatalities per year than this paper.

Europe summary:

This paper presents an analysis of fatal train accident rates and trends on Europe’s main line railways from 1980 to 2019. The paper is one of an annual series starting with 1980 to 2009. The data cover the 28 countries of the European Union as in 2019, together with Norway and Switzerland. The estimated overall trend in the number of fatal train collisions and derailments per train-kilometre is –5.6% per year from 1990 to 2019, with a 95% confidence interval of –7.1% to ‑4.2%. The estimated accident rate in 2019 is 0.85 fatal collisions or derailments per billion train-kilometres, which represents a fall of 78% since 1990. This gives an estimated mean number of fatal accidents in Europe in 2019 of 3.89. The actual number of fatal train collisions and derailments in 2019 was 2, which is well below its mean, and indeed the lowest such figure on record. The estimated mean number of fatalities in 2019 was 16.4; the actual number was 9, which is low because of the low number of accidents. That contrasts with 2016, for example, in which there were 51 fatalities from 6 accidents.  There are statistically significant differences in the fatal train accident rates and trends between the different European countries, although the estimates of the rates and trends for many individual countries have wide confidence limits. The distribution of broad causes of accidents appears to have remained unchanged over the long term, so that safety improvements appear to have been across the board, and not focused on any specific cause. The most frequent cause of fatal train collisions and derailments is signals passed at danger. In contrast to fatal train collisions and derailments, the rate per train-kilometre of severe accidents at level crossings fell slowly and only just statistically significantly in 1990-2019.

The paper “Fatal train accidents on Britain’s main line railways: end of 2019 analysis” can be downloaded from:


The paper “Fatal train accidents on Europe’s railways: 1980-2019” can be downloaded from:


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