Record Low Train Accident Rate Set in 2007

The newly released 2008 edition of the Association of American Railroads' "Railroad Facts" shows U.S. railroads had their second-busiest year on record in 2007 for total volume and also set a record-low train accident rate during the year. This booklet contains statistics on finance, operations, plant and equipment, employment and compensation, fuel consumption and cost, and loss and damage for 2007 and selected prior years. Copies are available to non-AAR members from the online AAR store.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Daily News on Sunday published an analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data that determined the Metrolink commuter rail system has a higher fatality rate than most larger systems and accounted for 39 of 61 rail passenger deaths nationwide during the past six years. Staff Writer Troy Anderson's report said Metrolink is the nation's seventh-largest commuter rail system in terms of ridership, but it has experienced the third-highest number of fatalities -- a total of 99 deaths, including those aboard its trains and those on the ground -- during the past decade.

A Metrolink train crash in Chatsworth, Calif., on Sept. 25, 2008, killed 25 people, including the train's engineer, Robert M. Sanchez, who had sent a text message 22 seconds before the time of impact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Anderson reported that a 10-member safety peer review panel is expected to make recommendations Friday on ways to improve Metrolink's safety record. He quoted Barry Sweedler, a safety consultant and former NTSB investigator, as saying Metrolink lacks total control of train workers' performance because it subcontracts for engineers and conductors with Veolia Transportation.

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