AAR Says Technology Making Rails Safer

The Association of American Railroads said this week that U.S. railroads had a record low accident rate in 2016.

Using data compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration, the AAR said derailment rates fell 10 percent while track-caused accident rates were also at all-time lows. Additionally, the employee-on-duty injury rate dropped 1.8 percent in 2016 compared with 2015.

Since 2000, the train accident rate is down 44 percent; the equipment-caused accident rate is down 34 percent; the track-caused accident rate is down 53 percent; and the derailment rate is down 44 percent.

The figures were calculated on per million train miles using March 2017 FRA data.

In a news release, AAR touted gains in research, development and implementation of new technology as being the primary contributor to the improved safety statistics.

The trade group also cited private spending averaging $26 billion annually in recent years
“Our goal remains zero incidents and zero injuries, but it is still noteworthy that railroads today are the safest they have ever been,” said AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger.

Among the use of improved technology that the AAR mentioned were multidimensional ultrasonic technology to locate defects in tracks and the use of drones for track and bridge inspections.

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