Estonian Railways prioritizes safety and makes no compromises in this respect. Increasing speed on the tracks and more frequent passenger train traffic call for ever greater safety related investments in the railroad infrastructure and different measures to ensure safety. As a railroad infrastructure company, Estonian Railways ensures safety by way of its own efforts as well as through cooperation with other railroad companies and partners.
Estonian Railways benefits from strong rescue capacity and equipment as well as from constant preparedness for crisis. To prevent crisis and improve response times in the case of an accident, training exercises continuously take place in cooperation with the Republic of Estonia Police and Border Guard Board, the Estonian Rescue Board, local municipalities, the emergency medical service, and other related authorities. If required, Estonian Railways is ready to put its special equipment to use in providing assistance in accidents not involving the railroad. Furthermore, Estonian Railways has equipped local rescue centers with mobile foam units.
In building, repairing, and maintaining as well as in arranging traffic on the public railroad infrastructure in its possession, Estonian Railways seeks to ensure maximum safety. Our safety management’s job is to make sure that safety objectives are consistently set, that measures and control measures required to implement said objectives are taken, and that improvement and/or preventive remedies are planned and implemented if required. In its strategy and safety management system, Estonian Railways subscribes to Vision Zero as relating to railroad infrastructure safety. Based on the Vision Zero principle, in cooperation with parties related to the management and use of the railroad infrastructure, we will shape processes and measures connected to railroad infrastructure safety in a manner that will ensure no deaths or serious injuries in the case of accidental errors.
Our safety driven guiding principles:
- We consistently develop our staff’s skills to ensure safe and seamless functioning, management, and maintenance of the railroad infrastructure.
- We prefer technological solutions and environmentally friendlier materials.
- We ascertain the root causes of accidents and near misses, remove any dangers, and take measures to prevent such dangers.
- We adhere to valid international and national railway safety, occupational safety, health, and environment related legislation and internal safety requirements.
- We involve employees, employers’ representatives, and cooperation partners in accident prevention; spotting, notification, analysis, and control of dangers and risks and implementation of preventive measures.
- We promote consistent safety, occupational safety, quality, and environment related improvement.
We have systematically tackled public railroad safety for years and during recent years Estonian Railways has taken measures to make railway crossings for vehicles and pedestrians safer. For example, in the past ten years, we built ten pedestrian tunnels, protective fencing to prevent crossing at unauthorized places was installed in a total length of more than 50 kilometers, good access pathways were built for all 144 railroad crossings administered by Estonian Railways, and the coating of railroad crossings was repaired. In addition to requirements prescribed by valid legislation, Estonian Railways has installed at railroad crossings additional measures for improved safety such as pipe railings, additional signs and boards. At railroad crossings across Estonia, safety has been prioritized by building multilevel crossings, renovating the ground cover at crossings, cleaning out visibility triangles, and installing automated traffic lights or crossing gates.
Statistical data indicates that the current situation with railroad safety continues to improve. At the same time, trains become faster and quieter, there is increasingly more traffic, and ever more factors such as headphones and mobile phones etc. distract pedestrians and drivers. Consequently, Estonian Railways continues at an unhalted pace to invest in safety equipment and carry out railroad safety related information campaigns. In the coming years, investments in safety equipment alone will amount to 10 million euros, meaning that in the next four to five years 107 railroad crossings for vehicles and nine pedestrian crossings will gain new safety equipment (crossing gates, traffic lights, audible signaling installations). We are taking significantly more active measures as pertaining to railroad safety related information campaigns. Our staff members visit schools and kindergartens, and in cooperation with the police and other partners we organize Estonia-wide safety related campaigns at railroad crossings within the framework of which we explain dangers caused by the railway and how to prevent them. We seek for our railroad safety messages to reach at least 1,000 children a year.