The Dutch railways have achieved a high level of safety for many years - also when viewed from an international perspective - whilst the volume of rail transport has increased in recent years and the Dutch railway network is used much more intensively than the networks in other countries. This high level has been achieved by the measures that have been implemented as is demonstrated by the evaluation of the Second Framework Document. However, at the same time it is necessary to conclude that there is no such thing as absolute safety and that it is unrealistic to expect that incidents or accidents will never occur. It is necessary to obtain the best possible insight into the risks and implement the appropriate measures to control those risks. Consequently, all parties will need to remain vigilant. The railway safety policy laid down in the Third Railway Safety Framework Document is based on the provision of assurances for the current high safety level of the railways by endeavouring to achieve permanent improvement. This is included in the Third Railway Safety Framework Document in the form of a Policy agenda for 2010-2020.
The railway safety policy laid down in this Third Framework Document has a pronounced European perspective and is in line with European indicators and definitions. Europe has implemented targets based on rolling averages. In this document, the implementation of the rolling targets uses a method which is compatible with the system adopted in the European Union. This is applicable – self-evidently – to the European indicators for which the European Union has already specified rolling targets, as well as to the European indicators for which rolling targets have yet to be specified and the supplementary, non-European indicators included in this document.
This document also outlines a number of developments that have been or are of influence on railway safety and play a role in the implementation of railway safety policy. These relate, in addition to the aforementioned influence of European and national legislation and regulations, on advances such as technological developments and innovations, railway developments such as high frequency rail transport (train services operated without a timetable) and factors including the growth in railway traffic. Where relevant, the significance of these developments is discussed in more detail in the specific themes of the Policy agenda for 2010-2020.
The first set of Common Safety Methods (CSM) for risk analyses has been adopted. A regulation imposes an obligation on railway companies to evaluate the risks by using a standardised method to analyse and assess the risks. The objective of the Common Safety Methods is to maintain or to improve the level of safety on the EU's railways, when and where necessary and reasonably practicable. The Common Safety Methods are also intended to harmonise access to the market for railway services and, in so doing, simplify access.
The European reference framework for the railway safety system is not yet complete: European and national targets and definitions are not always compatible at present. The CSM system will be expanded and the scope will be increased. The Common Safety Targets (CST) have yet to be adopted, although a method has been adopted for the specification of these targets. What are referred to as National Reference Values (NRV) have been adopted for each Member State: the ERA specifies the Dutch NRVs on the basis of the information the Inspectorate for Transport, Public Works and Water Management submits on behalf of the Netherlands.