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Rail News: Safety

U.S. railroads remain on pace to set all-time-low train accident rate, AAR says

During 2007's first seven months, U.S. railroads reported 1,472 train accidents - the fewest within a January-to-July period in more than a decade, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Thirty-four states reported fewer derailments and collisions compared with 2006's first seven months.

Preliminary Federal Railroad Administration safety data also shows the roads' train accident rate — determined as the number of accidents per million train miles — remained 10 percent below the current annual record of 3.54 set in 1997, keeping the railroads on pace to establish an all-time low rate at 3.19, the AAR said.

Railroads made other safety strides in the first seven months, as well. The number of derailments declined 14.3 percent, train-to-train collisions fell 12.1 percent, grade crossing accidents decreased 7.3 percent and crossing fatalities dropped 11.2 percent year over year.

Plus, the two leading causes of train accidents — human error and track issues — declined 12.5 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. Incidents caused by equipment failure decreased 11.3 percent and accidents caused by signal problems dropped 36 percent.

"These record-setting numbers clearly indicate that our extensive employee training programs, investment in safety technology, and dedication to infrastructure maintenance and improvement are paying safety dividends," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/18/2007