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Travelling in complete safety
Safety is an absolute priority for Infrabel. Every day, our 12,750 staff members work hard to ensure that all trains run under the very best safety conditions
The rail network is governed by very strict safety regulations. Thus, for example, we analyse network safety on a day-to-day basis according to predefined safety indicators; we study and install new safety systems; and we ensure that each staff member who plays a role in safety receives cutting-edge high-level training on the subject.
Train drivers, traffic management staff, and even signalling technicians play an essential role in rail network safety. That is why the demand for technical qualifications is very high.
For example, train drivers and signalling box staff are trained for many months before being able to carry out their function. They are also given specific training on the lines that they manage or run on. Thus, following their training, they have perfect working knowledge of their field and are able to react properly in all types of situations. Infrabel also insists on providing further training for its staff.
Analysis and anticipation of rail risks
Infrabel aims to provide the safest rail network possible. It is especially thanks to the ongoing modernisation of our installations and rolling stock, as well as to the analysis of rail risks that we continue to meet the very highest safety standards. Any external elements likely to pose a threat to safety are detected in a proactive manner and are eliminated systematically with the help of additional measures.
For this reason, it is important to assess potential accident or incident risks (for example: the risk of fire in a tunnel) and its possible consequences. That is why the Safety and Regulation service carries out a multitude of risk analyses in order to identify risks, assess them and take the necessary measures to reduce them to a minimum (e.g. changes to infrastructure, repair works, staff training).
This service also closely monitors any changes in the network’s safety level by means of different indicators such as the number of accidents, the number of cases of signals being disregarded, the amount of damage to tracks, etc. When a problem occurs, measures are taken to resolve the situation.
Learning lessons from each breakdown or incident
For Infrabel, it is essential to learn lessons from each problem which occurs on the network. Thus, every incident or breakdown, however small, is subjected to detailed analysis. This effective management helps to identify recurring causes and resolve them. Although Infrabel does everything in its power to prevent accidents on its network, sadly, a zero risk network is not possible. Therefore, it is essential to prepare emergency plan in order to guarantee fast and effective management of accidents or incidents and to anticipate risks. For example, in 2008, Infrabel signed an agreement with Solvay and BASF to work together on incidents involving the transport of hazardous goods. Should an incident occur, these specialist companies intervene and are able to take the necessary measures according to the substances contained in the damaged wagons.
Infrabel works with local councils, provinces, the various police authorities, etc. in order to be able to react as effectively as possible in the case of an accident and to organise emergency services accordingly.
With a view to ensuring maximum rail traffic safety and equipping our network with the most effective technologies available, we have carried out considerable work on our infrastructure in recent years. In order to improve safety on its network, Infrabel has, for example, invested widely in safety systems and driving aids (TBL1+, ETCS, GSM-R). These help the driver and prevent human error.
One of Infrabel’s roles is to ensure the maintenance of the rail network in order to enable trains to run under the very best safety conditions. The best prevention against accidents is the maintenance and regular inspection of tracks. Rail infrastructure (especially tracks) is checked at least twice a month.
In total, 5,000 Infrabel staff members are in charge of maintaining the network. Day after day, devoted men and women work in all types of weather, often at night, to ensure the most free-flowing and safest rail traffic possible.