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AAR: U.S. freight roads achieved safest-ever year in 2010


Preliminary 2010 data shows U.S. freight railroads marked their safest year in history by registering record-low train accident and employee casualty rates, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Released by the Federal Railroad Administration, the data shows the total number of train accidents involving U.S. Class Is declined 3 percent year over year, with the rate per-million-train-miles falling 9.6 percent from the previous record established in 2009. The number of employee casualties at U.S. Class Is dropped 14.2 percent and employee casualty rate measured by per-hundred full-time equivalent employees declined 16 percent from the previous record set in 2009, the AAR said.

In addition, collision rates decreased 13 percent from the previous record low established in 2009. The rate has dropped by 89.9 percent since 1980 and 47 percent since 2000, according to the AAR. Train derailment rates also hit a historic low, falling 9.6 percent from 2009’s mark, as did train accidents caused by defective track, human error and equipment, which decreased 9.4 percent, 9.6 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively.

"These safety accomplishments demonstrate the depth of the freight railroad industry's commitment to the safety of our employees, the communities we serve and the country's rail network infrastructure," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a prepared statement.

However, grade crossing collision incidents in 2010 increased for the first time in six years, rising 7.8 percent from 2009’s mark. The crossing collision rate rose for the first time in four years, inching up 0.5 percent on a per-million-train-mile basis.

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