Classification of railway accidents

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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 the 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[edit]




Classification of rail accidents by causes[edit]

Drivers' errors

Signalmen's errors

Mechanical failure of rolling stock

Civil engineering failure

Acts of other people

Contributory factors


  • 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.  Check date values in: |date= (help)