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Dynamics of safety within socio-technical systems: The Dutch railway system

As different safety paradigms acknowledge accidents are caused by a chain of unnoticed
factors, safety analysis within socio-technical systems requires to account for multiple
intertwined processes operating simultaneously. Therefore, we adopted the system
dynamics model which was previously developed by Rudolph and Repenning (2002), and
extended it for the Dutch railway system. In addition to discussing its relevance to
practice, we also analyzed the model and found a threshold behavior. That is, depending
on the capability of a system and flows of interruptions within it, the system could remain
in a stable mode or turn into a disaster.

Figure 1 – Stock and flow diagram of interruptions within the train operating subsystem.

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