Call for stronger focus on human element at ETF Railway Safety Conference

26 Oct 2016

Today the European Transport Workers’ Federation shared in a conference about railway safety and security the trade union vision that the human factor must be at the core of any safety policy. Furthermore the increasing number of third-party agressions as well as the constant threat of terrorist attacks have increased the need to raise awareness on the significant role humans play in safety and security in the railway sector.

Keynote speaker Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, addressed the conference with a dynamic speech on the relevance of a new safety culture for the railway sector. Over one hundred participants participated in four panel debates on the importance of the human factor in the assurance of railway safety in a competitive railway environment, control and enforcement of safety relevant topics like working time or proper qualifications of safety relevant staff, the impact of business models and interface issues and the trade union priorities for railway security.

From a trade union point of view the current trends in the discussions between European institutions and involved stakeholders on tackling safety issues still miss crucial points: control and enforcement of working and rest time in cross-border rail operations, ensuring high quality of training and qualifications for all safety related professions in a competitive railway environment and the development of a real ‘no blame safety culture’ for the railway sector.

MEP Michael Cramer, President of the European Parliament’s TRAN Committee commented: “The railways are already the safest mode of transport. But they can – and should – become even safer, which requires a stronger focus on the human dimension of safety. As rapporteur on the Railway Safety Directive, I have succeeded in introducing requirements for a better safety culture that encourages reporting and learning, instead of punishing the messenger. The railways can learn from the positive experiences in other sectors.”

Sabine Trier, ETF Deputy General Secretary, pointed out: “Safety and security continue to be our main priority and more attention has to be paid to the human factor in an open and competitive railway environment. EU harmonisation of railway safety cannot follow the logic of the lowest common denominator but should instead install a common and strong ‘no blame safety culture’.” 

For further information, please contact Sabine Trier (Tel: +32 (0)2 285 46 67; M: +32 477 512 814,