Highest monthly number of Czech rail deaths in years recorded in July

Foto ilustrativa: Tomáš Šácha

One-hundred and 30 people died on Czech railways in the first seven months of this year, when 740 accidents were recorded. July alone saw 10 rail deaths, the highest number recorded in a single month in over a decade.

Photo: Tomáš Šácha,  Czech Radio
Between the start of January and the end of July this year no fewer than 740 collisions and other extraordinary events were recorded on the rail network of the Czech Republic, a daily average of around 3.5.

Those crashes left 130 people dead, according to figures freshly released by the national Rail Safety Inspection Office.

Last month was the worst month in many years for rail deaths, the agency’s spokesperson, Martin Drápal, told Czech Radio.

“The worst month this year, and in the history of the Rail Safety Inspection Office going back many years, was July, when we recorded 24 collisions and 10 deaths. We had not registered 10 deaths in a single month since the year 2008.”

The number of deaths on level crossings in the Czech Republic has been persistently high. This year is no exception, according to Mr. Drápal.

“In the first seven months of this year we registered 116 collisions on railway crossings, in which 23 persons died. Compared to the same period last year, this represents an increase of 20 percent in accidents and an increase of 15 percent in deaths.”

UIC, a world railway sector association, says that internationally 95 percent of fatalities when trains collide with other vehicles are caused by drivers of the latter.

The rise in the number of rail accidents of all kinds in the Czech Republic has led both the state and carriers to take action.

For instance, Czech Railways has tightened up its checks on engine drivers, carrying out hundreds of random inspections.

Photo: Barbora Němcová
The country’s biggest rail operator said it had uncovered no cases of system failure, with shortcomings in all cases due to individual error.

The number of accidents has prompted the state to prepare a new points system for drivers under which they will be sanctioned for repeat offences.

Another innovation coming down the line will see checks on drivers’ free time, to prevent situations occurring in which they take extra shifts instead of undergoing the mandatory rest.

As for level crossings, the Railway Infrastructure Administration is set to invest tens of millions of crowns in making them safer.

Barriers will be installed on railway crossings on almost all of the country’s first class roads by the year 2023. By the close of 2019 they should be in place on 132 of the 164 around the country.

The Czech Republic has one of the densest railway networks in terms of kilometres of track in the whole of Europe.