Friday, March 06, 2009

Rail safety investment brings big payoff in 2008

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

American railroads again made big safety investments in 2008, and again they paid off in a big way.

Full-year safety results for 2008 were posted this week on the Federal Railroad Administration's website. Total accidents and incidents declined 11.1% to 12,167. Fatalities dropped 5% to 803, andthey were due mainly to events largely beyond the railroads’ control: grade-crossing accidents andtrespassing incidents.

Train accidents were down 10.9% to 2,375; collisions declined 9.1% to 190; derailments dropped 10.2% to 1,724; and yard accidents were down 4.9% to 1,310. 

Well-funded and expanded safety programs at highway-rail crossings and along the right-of-way were reflected in a decline of 14.6% incrossing fatalities, to 286; and a drop of 2.6% in trespassing deaths, to 458.

There were 25 employee fatalities, compared to 17 in 2007.