Classification of railway accidents
Classification of railway accidents, both in terms of cause and effect, is a valuable aid in studying rail (and other) accidents to help to prevent similar ones occurring in future. Systematic investigation for over 150 years has led to the railways' excellent safety record (compared, for example, with road transport).
Ludwig von Stockert (1913) proposed a classification of accidents by their effects (consequences); e.g. head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, derailments. Schneider and Mase (1971) proposed an additional classification by causes; e.g. driver's errors, signalmen's errors, mechanical faults. Similar categorisations had been made by implication in previous books e.g. Rolt (1956), but Stockert's and Schneider/Mase's are more systematic and complete. With minor changes, they represent best knowledge.
Classification of rail accidents by effects
- Head-on collision
- Rear collision
- Collisions with buffer stops
- Obstructions on the line (road vehicles, landslides, avalanches)
- Plain track
- Fires and explosions (including sabotage/terrorism)
- Falls from trains, collisions with people on tracks
Classification of rail accidents by causes
- Allowing two trains into same occupied block section
- Incorrect operation of signals, points or token equipment
Mechanical failure of rolling stock
Civil engineering failure
Acts of other people
- Other railway personnel (shunters, porters, etc.)
- Non-railway personnel
- Deliberate (vandalism, terrorism, suicide)
- Strength of rolling stock
- Fires resulting from accidents
- Effectiveness of brakes
- Poor track or junction layout
- Inadequate rules
- Level crossing misuse
- Ludwig von Stockert (1913), Eisenbahnunfalle (Railway Accidents - a contribution to railway operating technology). Leipzig 1913.
- Schneider, Wolfgang; Armand Mase (1971). Railway Accidents of (Great Britain and) Europe. In German, English translation by E.L. Dellow. David and Charles.
- Rolt, L.T.C. (1956 (and later editions)). Red for Danger. Bodley Head / David and Charles / Pan Books.