Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Train accidents down 25% in 2009, continuing trend

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U.S. railroads posted significant safety improvements in 2009, according to a report posted Wednesday on the Federal Railroad Administration’s website.

The industry’s safety record commands particular attention at a time when railroads are under an unfunded federal mandate to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) as a safety measure. The cost could exceed $15 billion.

The new FRA report, compiled by its Office of Safety Analysis, shows that train accidents were down 25.2% in 2009 to 1,841, compared to 2,997 in 2006, 2,668 in 3007, and 2,461 in 2008.

The number of collisions declined 28.9% to 135 in 2009, compared to 203 in 2006, 211 in 2007, and 189 in 2008. Derailments were down 26.4% to 1,308 in 2009, compared to 2,195 in 22006, 1,930 in 2007, and 1,727 in 2008. Yard accidents dropped 28.8% to 974 on 2009, compared to 1,579 in 2006, 1,195 in 2007, and 1,368 in 2008.

Rail fatalities of all kinds--due mainly to highway/railcrossing accidents and trespassing--declined 11.2% last year to 713, vs. 903 in 2006, 849 in 2007, and 803 in 2008.

Crossing fatalities dropped 14.2% in 2009 to 248, compared with 369 in 2006, 337 in 2007, and 289 in 2008.

Trespassing deaths declined 5.2% last year to 434, compared with 480 in 2006, 408 in 2007, and 458 in 2008.