2014 safest year on record

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The most recent safety statistics released by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in April show that 2014 was the safest year on record for train operations in the United States, in terms of both the number of accidents and the accident rate per million train-miles, for a variety of causes. These numbers include passenger rail, though the majority are freight rail accidents.

Track-caused accidents declined 10%, dropping from 565 in 2013 to 506 in 2014. The track-caused accident rate dropped 12% from 2013, and has dropped 54% since 2000.

Equipment-caused accidents fell 4%, from 229 in 2013 to 219 in 2014. The equipment-caused accident rate fell 6% from 2013; 44% since 2000.

Human-factor accidents dipped 5%, from 690 in 2013 to 657 in 2014. The rate for human factor-caused accidents declined 4% from 2013; 44% since 2000.

Total train accidents decreased 5%, from 1,822 in 2013 to 1,736 in 2014. The total train accident rate was down 7% compared with 2013; 45% since 2000, a new low.

“The FRA statistics show that while freight railroads moved more products in 2014 than any time since 2007, the focus on safe train operations remained front and center through technological improvements, company-wide safety programs and ongoing record spending back into rail operations,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. Since partial deregulation in 1980 under the Staggers Rail Act, “$575 billion has been spent on maintaining and modernizing our 140,000-mile rail system with $29 billion planned to be injected into rail infrastructure and equipment in 2015,” he noted. The freight rail industry is working all out to prevent any train incident, large or small. It is an ongoing 24/7 commitment and our goal remains zero accidents. Freight railroads are always looking to further advance safety and will continue to move forward with safety-focused initiatives and cutting-edge research and development.”

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