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Rail News: Safety

FRA's first-half safety stats: Fatalities fall, train accidents rise for U.S. roads


In first-half 2002, U.S. railroads reported more trespasser and employee fatalities compared with the same 2001 period, with totals rising from 239 to 273 and eight to 13, respectively. During 2003's first half, roads shored up those safety shortcomings — reporting 47 fewer trespasser and four fewer employee fatalities compared with last year — but a new concern has emerged: train accidents.

According to Federal Railroad Administration's preliminary "Railroad Safety Statistics" report released last week, 645 U.S. railroads reported 1,375 train accidents during the year's first half, a 4.4 percent increase compared with 1,317 accidents reported by 671 roads during the same 2002 period. Accident figures include year-over-year increases in the number of reported collisions (84 to 96), derailments (960 to 971) and yard accidents (713 to 750).

However, U.S. roads made other first-half safety strides. Total accidents/incidents decreased 7.6 percent to 6,485 and highway/rail incidents dropped 9.6 percent to 1,352 compared with 7,022 and 1,495, respectively, in first-half 2002.

Also, other incidents — such as injuries or fatalities to contractors, train passengers or volunteers — decreased 10.7 percent to 3,758 compared with 4,210 during the same 2002 period. Total fatalities dropped 15.6 percent to 395; total non-fatal injuries plummeted 34.4 percent to 4,118.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/14/2003