Safety Statistics

Railways provide a safe and sustainable form of transport worldwide. Whilst the actual level of safety achieved can vary widely, even within economically developed areas such as the European Union, railways are typically safer than all other transport modes with the exception of commercial aviation.

The methods used to collect safety data can vary widely between railway administrations as can its quality, making comparisons on a global basis difficult.

Work by the European Commission dating from 2019 suggested that the risk of death for a train passenger within the EU is around 0.09 fatalities per billion train kilometres, nearly one third that for bus and coach passengers and around 28 times less than for car occupants.

Mode of transportFatalities per billion passenger km
Airline passenger0.08
Railway passenger0.09
Bus/Coach occupant0.24
Car occupant2.52
Powered two-wheelers36.41

Fatality risk of passenger using different mode of transport 2019 (EU-27) The source is European Commission – Source ERA

The graph below compares passenger and workforce fatality rates for the period 2015 to 2019. The resulting ranking can be very sensitive to small number of serious accidents but usefully show the variation in the levels of safety achieved across the EU. Note that the normalised fatalities for Greece appear high due to the small number of train kilometres run, resulting in a rate that is sensitive to small changes in the number of fatalities.

Comparison of Passenger and Workforce Fatality Rates Across Europe (Source ORR, 2013)

International Railway Safety
International Railway Safety
International Railway Safety