Railroad Crashes Are Up, with Amtrak Leading the Pack


As the nation comes to grips with Tuesday evening’s Amtrak accident that took the lives of seven passengers, government sources reveal that rail accidents and derailments have increased over the last few years, with Amtrak’s rates higher than the rest.

Statistics show that railroad accidents declined in 2012, but this year saw a sharp rise. With 18 accidents, Amtrak rates have risen to heights worse than the rest of the railroad industry.

“Train accidents on Amtrak doubled at the beginning of the year, compared with the same period the year previous,” CNBC reported on Wednesday. “Amtrak’s trains were in 3.25 accidents for every million miles traveled, higher than the average 2.6 for all railroads.”

More Americans, though, have died from car-train accidents than from train derailments. Yet, even those numbers have declined. In 1981, for instance, there were almost 9,500 accidents from which 728 people died. But last year, accidents have fallen to 2,280, with only 264 deaths.

Still, train travel is far safer than most other modes of transportation. Only air travel is safer than Amtrak.

While derailments are somewhat common, most are not deadly. In 2014, there were 1,241 derailments but very few deaths occurred. But even after the recent climb, derailments have also declined from some 3,000 in 1980 to fewer than 1,000 in 2010.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at [email protected]


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