Railways accident safety investigation

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The safety investigation of railway accident is organised according to the principles, stipulated in the “Railways Act” and it is in compliance with the “Railway Safety Directive” 2004/49/EC requirements. In Estonia independent safety investigations are carried out since the 31st of March 2004. With the formation of the Safety Investigation Bureau (1st of January, 2012) the aviation, shipping and railways safety investigation is concentrated into a uniform multi-modal structure unit. 

Safety investigation is carried out in case of collision of the trains, in case of derailment of the train or in case of technical damage, caused in the rail traffic to the rolling stock and the road traffic vehicle, when it is accompanied with at least one fatality or five injured people. The safety investigation must additionally be carried out in case of extensive fire, environmental damage and damage caused to the infrastructure and rolling stock in the amount of at least 2 million Euros, also in case of substantial cessation of rail traffic.  

In case of other accidents, incidents, collisions and damages that happen in rail traffic an additional analyses is carried out, in the course of which the decision is made whether to begin an investigation or not.  In case it is decided to begin an investigation, the gravity of the incident is assessed, among this proceeding from the pan-European aspect and the circumstances, which could have resulted in graver consequences of the same incident.    The safety investigation is applied when the circumstances of the accident condition introduction of changes in railways safety regulations or in ensuring safety.

The railway accident safety investigation is conducted either by a sole investigator-in-charge or by a commission, specially constituted for the case.  Experts may also be included into the investigation. All institutions, enterprises, organisations and private persons who possess information about the circumstances of the case under investigation are obliged to cooperate with the bodies, which conduct the investigation.

Safety investigations are carried out with the purpose to increase railway safety. For this objective the investigating bodies in the course of investigation establish the causes of the occurrence and the related circumstances and plan measures, with recommendations and proposals, the proceeding of which reduces the probability of occurrence of the same type of incidents. In the course of the safety investigation one does not define by any means anybody’s quilt or the rate of liability for the incident that has taken place. 

The results of the safety investigation are drawn up in a corresponding report. The report belongs to public information and is published on the web site of the Safety Investigation Centre. The annexes of the safety investigation report are not liable to publication, according to the conditions, stipulated in the “Public Information Act”.