Zhang, Yadong, Ge, Xiaocheng, Yang, Wudong and Guo, Jin (2018) Analysing Railway Safety with Systems Thinking. In: ICRT 2017: Railway Development, Operations, and Maintenance. ASCE. ISBN 9780784481257

Railway system is a socio-technical system because the operation of such system also
heavily relies on the management of human activities and operating procedures in the organisation, as well as the execution of technical subsystems. Safety of these systems therefore is more than just about engineering their technical subsystems. The latest approach from systems engineering considers that an accident is due to inadequate controlled interactions in the system and is usually a dynamic event chain started from the activation of a hazard and culminated in a complex process of sequential and concurrent events until the system is eventually out of control. Meanwhile the analysis of these systems’s safety becomes much harder when simply applying the traditional techniques of safety assessment. It is because, first of all, a social-technical system consists of a lot of complex and
non-linear interactions, traditional techniques show their limits when analysing complex systems. And secondly, the safety of a social-technical system requires a system perspective, which should take all the behaviours (desired and undesired but predicted) of a system as a whole in the context of its environment. To capture the information needed, the models for these analyses (i.e., fault tree and FMEA table) will become too complex to have a systemic view of each individual causal factor. In this paper, we proposed an approach based on system thinking and system dynamics to analyse the safety of a social-technical system. The case study of a tram accident is simple enough for the purpose of demonstrating its feasibility and benefits. The comparison with fault tree analysis was conducted, but it was not for the evaluation of our approach. The real evaluation comes from the extensive
applications in real world.

ICRT2017 ID-132.pdf - Accepted Version

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