No serious rail accidents in Finland

There were no accidents in train traffic or shunting operations resulting in deaths or serious injuries among passengers or personnel.

Internationally, however, the year was bleak in terms of rail safety. Within a short period of time, between May and July, there were two serious accidents in Belgium and Canada involving the transport of hazardous substances. During the latter half of the year, there were also serious accidents in France, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

 

Determined measures were taken to improve the safety of shunting operations by the VR Group in spring 2013.

Even though the number of safety deviations in shunting have decreased over the years, they are still far too common. In order to reduce the number of safety deviations, the VR Group agreed to introduce operational changes in the use of air brakes and stoppers in shunting. Even though progress has been achieved, there is still room for improvement.

The contract on guarding VR facilities, an important component of customer safety, was subjected to competitive tendering at the end of 2012, and the new contract came into effect in spring 2013. An arrangement with a large number of operators was replaced by a contract with a single nationwide service provider. Contracts at individual locations have been gradually updated and most of the new contracts were concluded in 2013.

 

VR took part in major accident exercises

In 2013, VR took part in major accident exercises at rail yards in Kouvola, Tampere, Kokkola, Oulu and Vainikkala. Regional rescue services, cooperating closely with VR, have overall responsibility for carrying out the exercises. All exercises went without problems and the cooperation between railway operators in accident situations was found to be smooth.

The Finnish Transport Safety Agency audited the rail safety management system of the VR Group at the end of October. The focus of the audit was on risk management in terms of disruptions, changes and subcontracting. The conclusion was that in overall terms, risk management was at a good level. However, a small number of deviations and recommendations were registered.  

 

New protective clothing

One of VR’s biggest internal projects in 2013 was the introduction of new protective clothing. Under order of the Finnish Transport Agency, the orange colour had to be removed from the protective clothing, and in the future this colour may only be used in railway areas in the clothing of the security personnel. There were problems with the measurements of the protective clothing and with the heat properties of the winter clothing, which means that the end result was not entirely successful. The errors were corrected and they have formed the basis for corrective specifications for future projects of similar size.