The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis released new statistics this week showing across-the-board improvement in U.S. railroad safety.
The new figures show that in this year's first seven months, train accidents were down 30.9% from the corresponding period in 2008 to 1,041; collisions dropped 31.8% to 73; derailments were off 32.8% to 738; and yard accidents declined 34.3% to 541.
Track causes were blamed for 344 train accidents, down 33.7%; signal causes for 28, down 3.4%; and human factors for 349, down 34.2%.
Highway-rail grade crossing accidents and trespassing incidents caused most of the 404 fatalities in this year's January-July period, a total that was down 20.2% from last year. There were 139 crossing fatalities this year, down 13.1%, and 248 trespassing fatalities, down 6.6%.
The 718 large and small railroads included in the FRA survey reported 12 employee fatalities this year compared with 14 in the same period last year.
Wabtec Corp. announced Friday that has further diversified by acquiring Uifin International from Koch Chemical Technology Group LLC for $93 million. Unifin has annual sales of about $45 million from the manufacture of cooling systems and related equipment for the power generation and transmission industry.
"Unifin is a strategic complement to our Young Touchstone business unit, which is already well established in the industrial cooling systems market," said Albert J. Neupaver, Wabtec's president and chief executive officer. "The combination of our existing products and technology with Unifin's product line and aftermarket presence strengthens our worldwide position in the industrial cooling systems market, which we believe offers long-term stability and growth potential. In addition, this acquisition further diversifies Wabtec's business model into an adjacent market where we have proven technology and experience. We plan to continue to explore other niche opportunities worldwide to expand our cooling systems business."
Unifin has about 100 employees at three facilities, two in the U.S. and one in Canada, where it designs and manufactures a variety of cooling systems and related components, including oil coolers and pumps.