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FRA data affirms rail industry's actions to improve safety, AAR says

The AAR released a new white paper that explains how the rail industry's actions have helped improve rail safety.
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The Federal Railroad Administration's newly released data on rail safety shows the rail industry's approach to investments and operations has made the last decade the safest ever for rail, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said yesterday.

Specifically, the industry's efforts have driven down the train-accident rate by 27% since 2000 and 6% since 2022, according to an AAR press release.

Among employee-safety statistics, the AAR noted:
• For all railroads, on-duty fatalities declined 71% since 2000 and reached an all-time low in 2023; and
• For Class I employees, the rate of injuries and fatalities has dropped by 63% since 2000 reaching an all-time low in 2023.

AAR also noted that an analysis of 2023 FRA data per million train miles indicates:
• For all railroads, the derailment rates have dropped 30% since 2000;
• Per carload, the hazardous materials accident rate is at its lowest ever and down 75% since 2000 based on preliminary data;
• Class Is’ mainline accident rate is down 42% since 2000 but increased slightly compared to 2022; and
• Class Is decreased yard-accident rate per million-yard switching miles by 11%, reversing last year’s increase.

The AAR released a new white paper — available here — that further explains how the rail industry's actions have helped improve rail safety.

Among other things, the paper examines how rail carriers employ a multifaceted strategy to safeguard its workforce and the public by addressing and mitigating the leading causes of accidents – infrastructure or track defects, equipment malfunctions and human error.

"While there remain areas for improvement, both 2023 and the historical trendline demonstrate the railroads’ tireless pursuit of further safety gains and their success in achieving tangible results," said Jefferies.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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