Establishing the Relationship between Railway Safety and Operational Performance

Establishing the Relationship between Railway Safety and Operational Performance

Wendy D. Wemakor Anson Jack Felix Schmid

Mechanical Engineering Department, Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology, Hyderabad 501301, India

Available online: 
1 January 2018
| Citation



Deregulation and/or privatization of railway systems has been adapted in many developed countries, aimed at improving economic performance. Literature on railway performance mainly focuses on the effects of reforms and on liberalization itself as well as measuring performance indicators for the management of assets in the railway industry. Although these management reforms on the maintenance and operations of rail infrastructures are generally found to have contributed to improving trends of rail safety and safety performance, there is not much evidence from research to support this. There is also little work on how the lessons from restructuring can apply in developing countries.

Identifying approaches that can revitalize railways in developing and emerging economies while raising standards of safety and operational performance is the objective of this article. Presented are some of the specific lessons from developed countries and how they can be applied in developing economies’ railways, noting that it is not generally feasible to adopt best practices because of social and/or economic constraints. Only where there is a significant foreign investor is there the potential to replicate best in class technology and operational practices, so the presentation will identify areas where less well-funded railways can adopt lessons from developed countries – using both historical and current international benchmarks.

The originality of this approach lies in establishing the relationship between performance and safety in the era of reforms and liberalization of the rail industry. The article analyses publicly available data to suggest how rail safety considerations have impacted in a more general way upon railway performance, and by extension, derive lessons for emerging and developing economies.


benchmarking, operational performance, railway, safety, safety performance


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