Thursday, February 02, 2012

Rail accidents and fatalities decline

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

A new report by the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis shows that in the first 11 months of 2011, U. S. railroad accidents and incidents declined 5.7% from the same period in 2010 to 10,037. Rail fatalities, as defined by the FRA, were down 4.9% to 644, though strictly most of these were not preventable by the railroads.

That's because out of the total number of 644, some 387 deaths were trespasser fatalities, down 4.7% from the prior year period, while 226 occurred at highway/rail grade crossings. Protection at these crossings has been ruled to be the responsibility of highways.

Train accidents caused six deaths in the 2011 period, compared with eight a year earlier. There were 20 employee deaths, one more than in the prior year period.

Other numbers in the new report show that train accidents in the January-November period last year were up 1.8% to 1,780; collisions rose 20.2% to 143: derailments were up 3.5% to 1,286; and yard accidents increased 3.7% to 982.