The Investigation unit (IU) can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The railway infrastructure manager immediately telephones the investigator on duty to inform him of serious accidents and incidents as well as all collisions and derailments on the main line according to the means determined by the IU.
The investigator on duty goes to the site according to internal procedures and especially in case of a serious accident.
Decision to open an investigation
Based on the available éléments, the IU decides whether to open an investigation or not.
The IU’s decision to open an investigation is communicated to the European Union Agency for Railways, to the Department for Railway Safety and Interoperability, to the railway undertakings and infrastructure manager concerned. The parties concerned are consulted from the start of the investigation.
The first phase of the investigation involves factual data collection by investigators on the site of the accident or incident. This involves looking for and collecting all the information, descriptive as well as explicative, likely to clarify the causes of an unsafe event.
All the information, proof and declarations available and linked to the elements in a situation which have led to the accident or incident, are evaluated, so as to check what can be considered as proof or not.
The most probable scenario is then established. The careful analysis of a safety management system allows possible failures and/or inadequacies to be revealed.
An accident or incident is generally caused by human error: stopping at this finding does not allow the necessary lessons to be learned, does not allow the error to be avoided in the future, does not reduce the impact, etc.
This is why we look for the direct causes and the contributing factors that allowed the accident to happen.
Our findings cannot be interpreted as attributing or determining civil or criminal liability. The questions and reasonings are laid out in line with the IU’s sole objective: to promote safety by encouraging stakeholders to consult with each other, by continuing to invest in and be involved in improving safety on the Belgian railway network.
In the context of our investigations, we ensure that all people and organisations are treated with respect, courtesy, equality and discretion.
The investigations are conducted in a systematic, exhaustive and impartial manner.
The investigation report
Their goal is to encourage the circulation of knowledge acquired in the course of different analyses.
The preliminary reports are sent to the actors concerned, so as to allow them to get to know the analyses and to provide their comments. The goal is not to alter the content of the report but to add any necessary details.
The conclusions and recommendations are a part of the draft final report sent to the actors concerned. The changes accepted by the IU are then incorporated into the reports.
Further investigations are sometimes necessary to remove any ambiguities or to verify new elements made available to the IU.