Railways are one of the safest means of land transportation for people, cargo and the environment.
Over the almost 200 years of public service railway, there has been a constant evolution in railway technology, procedures and organization, towards an ever-greater level of safety, much of which was the result of learning by the railway companies and by the States from accidents occurring in the past.
Despite the very high level of safety of present-day European railway systems, as in any other human activity, accidents and safety incidents still occur occasionally. It is always essential to capture from those events the relevant learning to further improve, where possible, railway safety and prevent accidents.
Recognizing this fact, the Railway Safety Directive 2016/798 (RSD) issued by the European Parliament and the Council has the requirement for each Member State to ensure that investigations of certain accidents and incidents be conducted by a National Investigation Body (NIB), independent in its organization, legal structure and decision-making from any party whose interests could conflict with the tasks entrusted it.
The NIBs will investigate:
From the investigation, reports are made explaining the facts and identifying causal factors that led to the accident or incident, and presenting any safety recommendations that the NIB has decided to issue.
The Railway Safety Directive requires that the investigating bodies conduct an active exchange of views and experience for the purposes of the development of common investigation methods, drawing up common principles for follow up of safety recommendations and adaptation to the development of technical and scientific progress.
This is done through the NIB Network, which is a group of all NIBs. It holds plenary meetings of representatives of its members for the exchange of experiences, produces guides relative to investigation activities, conducts peer-reviews and, whenever possible, facilitates common training. In compliance with Article 22 of the RSD, the NIB Network has also established a programme of peer reviews where all NIBs are encouraged to participate so as to monitor their effectiveness and independence.
These activities are coordinated by an elected Management Committee of five NIBs and are generally supported by the European Union Agency for Railways, who also provides a Secretariat.
The NIB Network also fosters contacts with leading National investigation organizations outside the European Union space for the exchange of good practices, as well as welcomes the approach by other States wishing to gain knowledge from the experience of the NIBs.
The final purpose of the NIB Network is to help each NIB contribute in a meaningful way to the improvement of Railway Safety of the European Union, Norway and Switzerland.
The NIB Network acts accordingly to an approved Rule of Procedure and its activities are coordinated by a team of one representative from five NIBs, elected by their colleagues for a three-year term.
The present composition of the Management Committee is:
The Management Committee can be contacted at email@example.com.
The NIB Network has permanent or temporary Task-Forces for the management of specific projects. These are coordinated by the NIB Management Committee and presently are the following:
The Task-Forces can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In compliance with Article 22 of the Railway Safety Directive, the NIB Network has established a peer-review programme, which is open for any NIB to participate on a voluntary basis so as to monitor their effectiveness and independence.
This activity is undertaken by TF1, which produced the following documents, approved by the NIB Network plenary:
The peer-reviews are undertaken by teams of three investigators from different NIBs, coordinated and trained by TF1.
The peer-review reports are owned by the respective NIB.
According to Article 22 of the Railway Safety Directive, the NIB Network publishes annual reports highlighting identified strengths and suggestions for improvements resulting from the peer-reviews undertaken to NIBs in each year.
This activity is the responsibility of TF1, which produces the reports, approved by the NIB Network plenary.
To fulfill the requirement for the development of common investigation methods, drawing up common principles for follow up of safety recommendations and adaptation to the development of technical and scientific progress, the NIB Network is revising and updating previously available Agency guidance documents.
TF 2 is drafting the new Guidance documents for some relevant tasks of the NIBs, which will be made available here as they are finished and approved by the NIB Network plenary.
Until then, the Agency guidance documents are available.