The safety of the Belgian railways is Infrabel's number one priority. Since our establishment in 2005 we have made great strides in raising safety standards on our railway network to a higher level. Our aim? To be one of the top three European infrastructure managers in terms of rail safety.
Technology was again at the top of our agenda in 2014. The majority of the Belgian railway network has now been equipped with an automatic braking system. But safety goes much further than that. A reliable rail infrastructure and a strong traffic control system are essential for safe train services. Awareness, communication and training are further key elements of our safety strategy.
million invested in safety projects in 2014
total amount of signals equipped with the TBL1+ braking system
level crossings abolished in 2014
level crossings equipped with new electronic bells in 2014
total amount of kilometres of main line equipped with the ETCS signalling system
signal boxes centralised in 2014
Since 2010 the number of trains passing a red light has considerably decreased. This shows, once again, the benefits of implementing automatic braking systems. Raising awareness and training are other important factors in which Infrabel is also seriously investing. Safety is definitely more than just technology!
In 2010 Infrabel and SNCB launched an ambitious ETCS master plan, involving a total investment of no less than EUR 3.8 billion. Under this plan we aim to progressively equip the rail network with the European Train Control System (ETCS). By the end of 2014 there were 899 kilometres of main line equipped with this state-of-the-art technology. This makes us a European leader in this area.
Infrabel invests each year in the abolishment of some and the improvement of other level crossings to reduce the number of accidents involving road users. In 2014 we introduced a new, electronic bell at level crossings, as raising awareness among road users also remains one of our most important action points.
In June 2014 Infrabel created a Facebook page for the general public. We want to use this channel to keep the public informed, especially younger people, and raise awareness about safety on and in the vicinity of the railways. Take a look at our Facebook page:
Just as on the public highway, there are certain traffic rules on railways which train drivers must obey. The light signals and signal boards tell them when they can proceed, must slow down or stop. The people working in the signal boxes monitor train traffic closely. They set the points to the correct positions and operate the signals. This ensures that a train can travel safely from A to B.
GSM-R is a communication network using GSM and GPRS for voice and data transmission. In 2009 Infrabel completed the implementation of its own network of antennae for the railway network. This means we are no longer dependent on the capacity of public GSM operators. Public networks are still used for communication between signal boxes and train drivers, but for the ETCS level 2 safety system the signal information is transmitted to the driver's cab using GSM-R. So GSM-R is a very important communication system that helps improve safety on the railways.
Infrabel collaborates closely with railway companies and emergency services in order to be as well prepared as possible for potential crisis situations. It is of course important that all services that need to collaborate in the event of a railway incident have sufficient knowledge of the railway sector. We therefore regularly organise roadshows and information sessions for the emergency services and civil authorities. We also carry out simulations on the ground. These crisis exercises are an excellent opportunity to test crisis procedures in a real situation as well as the reaction time of all parties.
As rail infrastructure manager, Infrabel is required to present an annual safety report to the SSICF safety authority. In this report we provide an overview of incidents and accidents that occurred during the past year. The document also describes the actions taken to improve safety.