Increases in means of transport, developed transport networks, and modernization dependent on computer technology not only lead to huge security demands but also require preventive measures and vulnerability assessments of key elements of transport infrastructure. The analyses carried out have shown that, though the importance of transport continues to grow, there is currently no system for assessing the vulnerability of essential elements that are necessary to keep rail transport safe and operational. Taking into account a number of criteria, the team of authors identified key elements of the railway transport infrastructure—bridges, tunnels, the width of the track, and the marshaling yard. The criteria applied included the significance and uniqueness of the element, its technical parameters, the difficulty of repair after possible damage, potential risks related to the location, and the analysis of rail safety based on statistical data and safety reports. The aim of this contribution is to present a multi-level model for assessing the vulnerability of key elements of rail transport infrastructure. The authors proceeded from the hypothesis that the vulnerability of key elements can be assessed using quantitative and qualitative parameters of the individual elements. The added value of the model is the methodological basis for a comprehensive vulnerability assessment system that will allow competent authorities to objectify the process of vulnerability assessment of key elements and to set up appropriate safeguards to enhance rail safety. The proposed model was verified on the Zilina-Vrútky track section, which is considered one of the most important railway junctions in Slovakia.
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