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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

January-to-August train accidents rise slightly, crossing incidents fall, FRA says


Federal Railroad Administration Nov. 9 updated its preliminary January-to-August railroad accident and incident data.

FRA recorded 1,999 train accidents in that eight-month span — four more than last year — and 7,864 total reported casualties (646 fatal), which dropped 7.2 percent compared with last year's 8,471 total reported casualties (630 fatal).

Highway-rail crossing incidents totaled 2,165, declining 4.6 percent compared with 2,269 incidents in 2000, and highway-rail crossing fatalities totaled 282, decreasing 5.7 percent compared with 299 last year.

Per million train miles, FRA reports an average of 4.21 train accidents during the period, rising 2.4 percent compared with 2000's 4.11 average, and 4.56 highway-rail crossing incidents, dropping 2.5 percent compared with last year's 4.68 average.

Meanwhile, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Nov. 13 released its own January-to-August FRA safety data pertaining only to regionals and short lines.

Train accidents dropped from 361 to 345; fatalities, from six to zero; and non-fatal injuries, from 845 to 675, compared with the same period last year.

"[Railroads] shouldn't let recent events change the focus of safety — there should be more emphasis on vigilance and all railroads should answer this call," says L. S. "Jake" Jacobson, president and chief operating officer of Copper Basin Railway. "When employees are on their way home or on vacation, they still have to be vigilant to see if someone without proper clothing or identification might be working on a bridge."

ASLRRA in September honored a record 191 small roads with the 2000 Jake Award with Distinction, and 18 railroads, the 2000 Jake Award — created in 1994 by Jacobson to recognize regionals and short lines that maintain perfect safety records (no reported fatalities or injuries). The Jake Award with Distinction is awarded to railroads that last year registered no fatalities, injuries or train accidents.

Jeff Stagl

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/15/2001