Rail accidents and incidents continue downward trend in 2020

Railway crossing.
Railway crossing. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The total number of rail accidents is on a downward trend, officials said Tuesday, mirroring a trend seen across the European Union as a whole. A total of four people lost their lives in rail accidents in Estonia last year, while rail incidents involving the public as a whole reached a six-year low in 2020.

Kaur Kajak, director general at the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA), said: "We are particularly glad to note that 2020 was exceptional in terms of the low number of incidents."

Noone was killed or seriously injured in a train-road vehicle collision in 2020.

Nonetheless, there was on room to be complacent, Kajak added.

"We urge everyone to act with care and exercise due caution near railways," Kajak said, according to BNS.

The European Railway Agency published a report on trends in rail safety in Europe earlier this month, based on data for 2019, which confirms an overall positive development across the EU.

Since 2010, the numbers of accidents, and of people killed as a result of accidents, have been declining at a rate of 4 percent per year on average, reaching a peak in 2019, which was the safest year on record on EU rail lines.

1,552 accidents registered during that year, with the number of casualties standing at 824.

However, progress has been very uneven when it comes to individual member states, BNS reports, and rail safety levels continue to vary a lot by country, the agency noted.

In Estonia, nine public safety-related incidents happened on Estonian railways, three in Harju County and Tartu County each, and one apiece in Lääne-Viru, Põlva and Viljandi counties, BNS reports.

What proportion of these related to suicide attempts was not reported.

The bulk of these incidents involved pedestrians or, in two cases, cyclists, being hit crossing the railway line, including at unauthorized locations, which accounted for all four deaths in 2020.

The figure for deaths was still higher than 2016, when only one person was killed on the railway line in Estonia.

In 2019, noted actor and musician Jüri Aarma was killed at a train crossing in Tallinn. Aarma was cycling over the crossing when struck, and had reportedly been talking on his phone in the moments before the tragedy.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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