Front Page: Traficom
Front Page: Traficom

The safety of rail travel has remained at an excellent level – historically low numbers of level crossing accidents

The safety of Finnish railways remained stable in 2022. The level of passenger safety was excellent and the number of level crossing accidents was the lowest ever in the entire monitoring history of over 70 years. Although a considerable amount of work has been done to improve railway safety, some issues are yet to be solved. This information was revealed in the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom’s annual railway safety report.

The volume of train transport grew in 2022 compared to the previous year. A total of 48.7 million kilometres were travelled by train on the Finnish railways, while a year earlier the same figure was 47.4 million. The goods transport volume dropped slightly from the previous year, whereas the amount of passenger traffic increased to a level that is close to the volumes recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fewer major railway accidents compared to the previous year 

In 2022, there were 17 significant accidents on Finnish railways, in which four people died and seven were seriously injured. The number of significant accidents was clearly lower than in 2021, but when compared to the last 10 years, on a similar level to the previous years. 

Seven out of the 17 significant accidents were accidents resulting in personal injuries caused by rolling stock in motion. Four people were seriously injured and three people died in these accidents. One of the fatalities was a track maintenance worker. Four of the persons concerned were trespassing on railway premises when they were run over.

Historically low numbers of level crossing accidents

Compared to 2021, the largest decrease in the number of railway accidents concerned level crossing accidents. The number of significant level crossing accidents dropped from 13 to 5 in 2022. There were 15 level crossing accidents in 2022 in total, which is the lowest figure in the entire monitoring history of over 70 years.

Persons who were run over made up the majority of personal injuries

Trespassing on railway premises and unauthorised crossing of railway tracks are a major safety issue on Finnish railways. These train-pedestrian collisions cause approximately 50 to 60 fatalities every year. Most of them are deliberate. No clear trend can be observed in the number of these collisions In 2021, the rate of train-pedestrian collisions was lower than average at 38. In 2022, the number of collisions returned to the previous level at 59 collisions.

Trespassing on railway premises and unauthorised crossing of railway tracks are common offences and only a fraction of these incidents is included in official statistics. Preventing these offences is challenging because the Finnish rail network is so extensive. According to studies, cases of unauthorised crossing are dependent on the location, and the preventive measures should be tailored to the specific location in question.

Shunting and track work safety has improved in the long term

The annual number of accidents and dangerous situations occurring during shunting, i.e. when cars are moved and arranged, has decreased during the last 10 years. In 2022, there were 160 shunting incidents, which is a few more than in the previous year.

The safety of track work has improved during the last monitoring period of five years – there has been a positive development in both the annual number of occurrences and the success rate of track work.

Potential for improvement in railway safety

Much work has been done in the whole sector recently to improve the safety of Finnish railways. Focus areas have included the development of expertise and safety culture as well as improving the overall level of safety management. Changes in ways of working occur fairly slowly, but the development is headed in the right direction.

“In general, the quality of the operators’ safety management system is starting to be fairly high. The challenge is often including the methods described in the system as a part of the operations in practice. We will be paying special attention to this in future inspections. It is also pleasing to see that the operators have started to take human and organisational factors into account more actively than before,” says Senior Specialist Ville Viertola.

Reporting is essential to creating a situational picture

Traficom’s annual railway safety report details the level of railway safety in the previous year. The information is compiled from safety reports provided by infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, railway operators’ accident and incident reports, and the Safety Investigation Authority’s accident investigation reports. 

“It is extremely important that railway operators report any accidents and incidents in which they have been involved to Traficom. This allows Traficom to maintain an up-to-date situational picture of the safety of Finnish rail services. The information is also used to guide Traficom’s operations in a risk-based manner,” says Senior Specialist Anne Silla.


Anne Silla, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 534 5420,
Ville Viertola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 534 7314,