A recent analysis of federal railway data indicates that on average, a train accident occurs every two days on passenger and commuter trains. It’s even more frequent when you include accidents that involve non-passenger trains.
The most notable train accident in New York recently was the derailment of the Metro-North in the Bronx last December, in which four were killed and 77 injured. New York City train accident lawyers know that many of these incidents are the result of human error, often conductors who are speeding, falling asleep or otherwise operating recklessly. In the case of last year’s Metro North crash, it was determined that the train was traveling 82 mph around a 30 mph curve when the incident happened, though investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have yet to assign fault.
That same railroad was responsible for another crash in Connecticut nearly a year ago, when a train derailed and struck another train, injuring 120 passengers and 10 workers.
The Federal Railroad Administration indicates that over the last 11 years, some 27 railroad operators report 2,260 accidents, 780 derailments and more than 100 collisions. These collisions resulted in 50 who were killed and 2,685 injured.
Those trains with the highest percentage of accidents? After Amtrak, it’s the trains of the New York metropolitan area’s Metro-North Railroad and New Jersey’s NJ Transit. Former NTSB chairman Jim Hall was recently quoted by USA Today as saying that passengers should be concerned for their safety.
However, it’s not just commuter rails. Advocates with Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit dedicated to informing people of the dangers of railroads, report that in 2013, the number of railroad trespassing deaths increased by 11 percent to 476. Additionally, the number of deaths caused by vehicle accidents increased to 250, or nearly 8 percent.
This has prompted safety officials to launch a new campaign designed to educate. It’s called, “See Tracks? Think Train.” The spot shows a youth walking on the railroad tracks. He’s wearing ear buds, and doesn’t realize there is a train approaching from behind.
Still, the FRA asserts that despite a spate of recent accidents, train travel is actually getting safer. Officials there say that since 2004, passenger and commuter train accidents have decreased by 44 percent, derailments by nearly 42 percent and collisions by half. This was even as ridership and rail traffic rose.
Still, it appears many rail companies may be putting profits before passenger safety. In the FRA’s two-month review of the Metro-North crash, officials indicated that a few things have become clear. One of those is that the railway strongly emphasized being on-time. This push, combined with increased train activity, allowed supervisors and managers to let inspections, employee training and train maintenance slide.
Another big problem in the industry is the condition of the tracks. While many passenger and commuter rails operate on their own lines, they also share portions of the track maintained and used by freighters. Railroad worker injury lawyers have been quoted as saying that the condition of those tracks is “deplorable,” with scores of track ties rotting.
The FRA counters that the tracks have never been safer. We’re not sure what that says about safety in the past, particularly considering that late last year the Government Accountability Office reported safety inspectors for the FRA only have the ability to inspect less than 1 percent of the federal railroad system.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations regarding Manhattan personal injury. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Safety records of commuter train lines show problems, March 28, 2014, By Gary Stoller, USA Today
More Blog Entries:
Fatal N.Y. Metro Train Crash Prompts NTSB Safety Recommendations, March 20, 2014, New York City Train Accident Lawyer Blog