- The Association of American Railroads (AAR) notes that 2016 had the lowest number of rail accidents in history, according to numbers provided by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Go Rail reported.
- Since 2000, train accidents are down 44% percent, while equipment-provoked accident rates have fallen 34%. Accidents caused by faulty tracks are down 53%, while derailments are 44% lower.
- The lowered accident rates are attributed to private investment and Positive Train Control (PTC), among other factors.
The 2017 ASCE Report rewarded America's railroads with the highest infrastructure grade in this year's analysis: a solid B.
Railroads can be said to lead the transportation pack, and yet, given that the grade for the infrastructure at large was a D, rail achievements should be assessed accordingly and with proper context. One aspect of rail's effort to implement safety changes is the aforementioned PTC, which is progressing slowly (but surely).
Any delay could cost significant losses in lives or property damage, such as those that occurred between 2009 and 2011, when property damage to vehicles struck by trains averaged over $7,500 dollars while damage to the train totaled more than $8,000. Further damage to the railroad infrastructure, which we are now struggling to maintain, neared $1,000 per incident.
However, the AAR insists technology like PTC is the "largest and most complex safety system in the history of the railroad industry," which promises severe declines in accidents once fully implemented. Continued private investment is pivotal, however, and the railroad industry prides itself in its private nature, pointing to its public counterparts' slower progress on similar technologies.