Happening Now

New Report Highlights 10-Year Safety Trend in Freight and Passenger Rail

November 15, 2016

Steady Improvements in Rail Infrastructure and Innovation Lead to Positive Trends in Rail Safety

Report Highlights 10-Year Safety Trend in Freight and Passenger Rail

Washington, D.C. - The OneRail Coalition released a new report today, "Rail Safety in the United States" highlighting a 31 percent decline in rail accidents over the past 10 years. This positive safety trend occurred even as passenger rail traffic grew and freight rail traffic remained steady over the same time frame.

"Freight and passenger rail have many benefits, including the overall safety of travel by rail when compared to its primary alternatives," said Anne Canby, Director of OneRail. "Increasing market share for rail by getting more goods and people onto trains would save lives and reduce injuries, significantly improving the overall safety of the nation's transportation system."

The report highlights a number of factors that have contributed to this positive safety trend over the years, including improvements to rail infrastructure such as welded rail and treated wood crossties, grade crossing programs such as Operation Lifesaver and sealed corridors, the introduction new track inspection and monitoring technologies, the strengthening of tank cars, and the introduction of collaborative safety programs such as Confidential Close Call Reporting.

To continue progress, a host of new initiatives are underway focusing on the leading areas of rail-related accidents, including trespassing, grade crossings, human factor-caused accidents, and track issues. These efforts, including increasing public awareness of the dangers of trespassing on rail property and failure to heed warnings at rail-highway grade crossings, furthering knowledge of the Emergency Notification System, the creation of the Short Line Safety Institute, the implementation of Positive Train Control, new uses for drones and big data, and the advancement of phased array ultrasonic rail inspection will all make rail even safer going forward.

"Rail Safety in the United States" is available online at www.onerail.org/railsafety.


About the OneRail Coalition

The OneRail Coalition is a diverse group of rail stakeholders representing all facets of the rail industry. The Coalition works to expand the awareness of the value and benefits of a strong freight and passenger rail system. Our members include:

  • public transportation and passenger rail organizations: American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Amtrak, States for Passenger Rail Coalition (SPRC);
  • freight rail associations: American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), Association of American Railroads (AAR);
  • rail supplier and contractor associations: National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRCMA), Railway Supply Institute (RSI);
  • rail labor: Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BLET/BMWE), SMART Transportation Division, Transportation Communications International Union/International Association of Machinists (TCU/IAM)
  • rail advocacy and transportation reform organizations: National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), Surface Transportation Policy Project (STTP); and
  • rail engineering and supply companies: AECOM, Alstom, Caterpillar, General Electric, HNTB, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and Siemens.