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Volume 11, Number 2, March 2015 - Editorial - pp. 101-103



Transportation infrastructure of a country forms the backbone of economic well-being and prosperity of that nation. In order to derive this benefit and all the transportation systems must function efficiently and reliably in order to move people and freight safely and be cost effective. Any transport system, be it road, rail, air or water, should be available for maximum percentage of the time and should be safe to use. To ensure safety of such systems, proper maintenance and asset management practices must be strictly pursued. Any breakdown or accident could cost in terms of loss of revenue and assets and might even cause loss of lives. Therefore, their design, operation, and maintenance must be closely controlled and carefully executed. This is absolutely necessary to minimize the risk to the passengers, workforce and environment.

This special issue is all about this theme. Although we realize, the scope of the theme is very vast and the space is limited in order to encapsulate all the elements of variety of transport systems available today. However, the main objective of this special issue is to at least initiate a discussion in that direction through the medium of this journal. To accomplish this task, we invited Professor John D. Andrews and his colleagues to bring out a special issue of International Journal of Performability Engineering on the theme of Transport System Safety, Risk and Asset Management. Professor Andrews is Royal Academy of Engineering and Network Rail Professor of Infrastructure Asset Management in the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre at the University of Nottingham, U.K. The result of this initiative is the present issue.

In March 2011, the European Commission (EC) adopted a White paper titled ‘Roadmap to a single European transport area-towards building a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011) 144 final). This strategy involves 40 specific initiatives to build a competitive transport system that aims to increase mobility, remove major barriers, and stimulate growth and employment. Some initiatives relate to specific modes of transport: such as developing rail services or a suitable framework for inland navigation; road safety, civil aviation safety, and rail safety. Others concern transport terminals, notably the capacity and quality of airports and market access to ports. The overall aim is to reduce dependence on imported oil and to reduce carbon emissions from transport by 60 % by 2050 (with respect to the levels of 1990). The strategy also has other targets other than sustainability, such as:

  • moving closer to zero fatalities from road transport accidents by 2050; or
  • tripling the length of the high-speed rail network by 2050.

In October 2013, the EC put forward a new transport infrastructure policy, with a timetable to establish a core network by 2030. It is planned that this core will be composed of nine multimodal transport corridors: two north–south corridors, three east–west corridors; and four diagonal corridors. The core network by 2030 would:

  • connect 94 main European sea ports with rail and road links;
  • connect 38 key airports with rail connections into major cities;
  • upgrade 15 000 km of railway line to high-speed networks;
  • reduce bottlenecks at 35 cross-border projects.

In September 2014, the EC invited EU Member States to propose projects to use EUR 11.9 billion to improve European transport system. This is the largest ever single amount of EU funding earmarked for transport infrastructure, with funding concentrated along the nine major transport corridors.

We in India need to emulate a similar set of strategies in order to develop a viable, safe and sustainable transport system.

The elements of performance of the U.S. transportation system (which includes how reliably and safely the system serves travellers and shippers and how the movement of people and freight on the system affects the economy and the environment) are highlighted in the USDOT Strategic Plan and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Public Law No. 112-141) under the topics of safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and liveable communities. Some of the facts worth noting are:

  • Traffic congestion in the US costs a commuter, on average, 34 hours in delay and 14 extra gallons of gasoline per year-roughly double the costs two decades ago.
  • All modes of freight transportation experience substantial congestion. Truck congestion alone cost $23 billion in wasted fuel and hours of delay in 2010.
  • While fatalities have declined over the last four decades (There were over 50,000 motor vehicle fatalities annually between 1966 and 1973), transportation still accounts for nearly 35,000 lives lost and over 2.2 million injuries each year (2011).The number of injured were estimated 3.2 million in 1990.
  • The transportation sector accounts for 70.2 percent of total petroleum consumption in the United States. In 2011, the transportation sector accounted for about 27.9 percent of total U.S. energy consumption.
  • Transportation is the single largest sector generating greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about one-third of the U.S. total; transportation's 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 is down from 1.9 billion metric tons in 2005.

According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.24 million deaths worldwide in the year 2010, slightly down from 1.26 million in 2000. That is one person is killed every 25 seconds. Only 28 countries of the world, representing 449 million people (7% of the world’s population), have adequate laws that address all five risk factors (speed, drink-driving, helmets, seat-belts and child restraints). There are large disparities in road traffic death rates between various regions of the world. The risk of dying as a result of a road traffic injury is highest in the African Region (24.1 per 100 000 population), and lowest in the European Region (10.3 per 100 000). According to WHO report of 2013, the road accident fatalities per 100000 inhabitants per year in some of the countries of the world are as follows: China-20.5, India-19.9, Russia-18.6, U.S.A.-11.6, Italy-6.2, France-4.9, Japan-4.8, Germany-4.3, and U.K.-3.5, Israel -3.3, Denmark- 3.0, Sweden-3.0, and Norway-2.9. Although for most of these countries, the figures given above are for the year 2012 except for France and Germany (2013), India (2011) and China (2010). Half of the world’s road traffic deaths occur among motorcyclists (23%), pedestrians (22%) and cyclists (5%) - i.e., vulnerable road users- with 31% of deaths among car occupants and the remaining 19% among unspecified road users. Young adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of global road traffic deaths and 77% road deaths are among men. Road Safety is a major societal issue in European Union. In 2011, more than 31,500 people died on the roads of the European Union (EU), i.e., the equivalent of a medium town. For every death on Europe's roads, there are an estimated 4 permanently disabling injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord, 8 serious injuries and 50 minor injuries. EU targets to reduce fatalities to nearly half by 2020. Road safety is also a major issue in India that needs special attention as there's one death reported every 4 minutes on the streets of India. Nearly 500,000 road accidents were reported in 2013 in which more than 100,000 people lost their lives. A large chunk of the victims were aged between 30 and 44 years.

According to rail road accident data from the Office of Safety Analysis, Federal Railroad Administration of US Department of Transportation, there were a total of 1704 rail accidents in 2012 of which 1256 were derailments, 159 were collisions resulting in 9 fatalities and 283 injuries. Relative figures for India which has 64000 km of rail network are not known accurately but through newspaper reports at least over 15000 persons died in rail accidents every year and some 20 million people travel each day in India by trains in a nation of 1.2 billion. A high level committee was set up by the Government to review the safety of rail road network and suggest measures to improve it.

Regarding data on aviation safety, the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JADEC) provides global safety analysis about commercial airlines since 1989. The German founders Jan-Arwed Richter and Christian Wolf have written a number of books about aviation accidents- JACDEC books. Since 2002 JACDEC publishes an annual ranking of the "Safest 60 Airlines". The index rating, JACDEC distinguishes whether an event is a total loss or a serious incident: Both will be recorded in JACDEC Database, but in the final weighting a total loss counts considerably more. The term "total loss" means that any repair costs of accident damage exceeds the residual value of the aircraft or if the aircraft was totally destroyed. JACDEC include only flights where paying passengers are on board. Therefore all freight – ferry, training of maintenance flights are disregarded. The JACDEC Safety Index is developed from their own database. To arrive at the rankings, JACDEC claimed that it culled data on air crashes and fatalities during the last 30 years and factored in international safety benchmarks. Furthermore, since 2013, JACDEC takes into account the level of transparency the governing authority has. The Centre also monitors current safety occurrences and provides updates on airline safety issues. JACDEC includes a time factor, which increases the effect of recent accidents and lessens the impact of those in the past. Among the safest airlines in 2014 ranking is Air New Zealand followed by Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and the 91-year-old, government-owned Finnair. The only carrier older than Finnair that made it to the top 10 ranks was 1919-born British Airways at 6th position. Etihad Airways, which has been around for just about 10 years and was one of the youngest airlines in the list, is deemed the eighth safest. No US-based airline figured in the top 10. India's Jet Airways was at 35th spot and Air India placed at 57th spot. According to the ranking, the 54-year-old China Airlines which had 755 fatalities since 1982, the highest in the world is placed at 58th position after Air India. In the last 30 years, Air India has had only one crash-that of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985-which ended in a hull loss and 329 deaths. But that crash was as a result of a terrorist action, not poor safety. After China Airlines, Korean Air suffered the second-most fatalities at 687; and yet, it figures at 52nd rank in 2014 list. At the same time, the carrier suffered eight "hull loss" accidents, which was less than Aeroflot and American Airlines' 10 each but they figure at 37th and 41st ranks respectively in the list. Obviously, some airlines question this safety ranking.

Regarding safety of waterborne transportation system related to vessel casualties and damage to property, the figures provided for 2012 by the Office of Investigation and Analysis, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Homeland Security are as follows: Fatalities -33; Injuries -141; Accidents -5298; Vessels -7972; and the properties damage is Dollars 100.4 million. In Canada, Transportation Safety Board (TSB) keeps annual record of marine safety and it covers commercial vessels, which include all vessels registered or licensed to operate commercially. In 2012, 286 marine accidents were reported to the TSB, down from the 2011 total of 326 and the 2007–2011 average of 391. Over the past 10 years, nearly 90% of marine accidents were shipping accidents, while the remainder were accidents aboard ship. In U.K., Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) keeps all the records of accidents. The Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012 require Masters, Skippers and Owners of vessels to report accidents. In addition, this duty to report accidents to the MAIB extends to harbour authorities, inland waterway authorities, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Lastly, I would like to thank Prof. John D. Andrews, Dr. Rasa Remenyte-Prescott of Nottingham University and Dr. Lisa M. Jackson of Loughborough University, U.K. for formulating and bringing out this special issue And our sincere thanks are due to the referees who assisted in timely reviewing the manuscripts and to all the authors whose articles are included in this issue.

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