Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Rail fatalities rise 6.3% in 2010's first three months

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While most measures of railroad safety are solidly positive, the latest fatality figures tell a slightly different story. Statistics for January through March this year show 153 deaths from all causes, up 6.3% from the same period in 2009 though flat with 2008 and down 14.3% from 2007.

The biggest increase was in highway-rail grade crossing deaths. This year’s 61 fatalities were up 19.6% from 2009 though down 23.8% from 2007’s 80. Trespasser deaths declined 1.2% to 85.

Rail fatalities this year include five blamed on train accidents compared with none in the two prior years and two in 2007.

There were six employee deaths in the first three months of 2010, compared with seven last year, six in 2008, and four in 2007.

A total of 723 reporting railroads counted 2,670 accidents and incidents in January-March 2010, up 2.2% from last year.

Rail accidents declined 6.8% to 47; collisions were down 38.1% to 261, and derailments were down 2.3% to 344.

Track causes were held responsible for 165 accidents, up 6.5% from last year; human factors for 146, down 12.6%; signal causes for 11, down 31.3%; and miscellaneous causes for 94, up 13.3%. Yard accidents, at 254, were flat with last year in this year’s first three months, though down 28.7% from 2009.