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Railroad Accidents

Railroad Accident Injury Lawsuits

Railroad Accidents | Lawsuits, Lawyers | Injury, Deaths | Train, Malfunctioned, Freight Spillage

Railroad Accident

The railroad industry and its supervisor, the Federal Railroad Administration, have long maintained that signal malfunctions pose little danger and that accidents caused by them are extremely uncommon. A New York Times computer analysis of government records found that from 1999 through 2003, there were at least 400 grade-crossing accidents in which signals either did not activate or were alleged to have malfunctioned. At least 45 people were killed and 130 injured. Federal rules require that railroads maintain signals on tracks they own, but quite often railroad crossing malfunctions go uncorrected.

The frequency of signal malfunctions is difficult to assess, because railroads do not have to report all malfunctions and because proving that an error occurred is often difficult after an incident. Based upon government data, some 9,500 calls about signals were lodged in 2003 in Texas alone. Chronic signal malfunctions are not only hazardous, but also burdensome for police departments, especially smaller ones, because they must often send officers to safeguard motorists at problem crossings.

Peggy Wilhide, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads, played down the significance of signal malfunctions, saying a recent federal report found that the great majority of railroad accidents railroad accidents were caused by unsafe drivers. Ms. Wilhide also stressed that most of the reports of signal malfunctions could not be confirmed. In some cases, records show, railroad workers have accidentally detached the warning system or disabled signals during maintenance without providing alternate ways to warn drivers.

The latter issue was the subject of a 2002 agency advisory. Of the grade-crossing accidents in the New York Times study, nearly 17% involved rail maintenance or inspection equipment that, according to the rail industry is not designed to activate the warning signals.

In the summer of 2002, 27 short signals on the Canadian National tracks in Illinois were reported to the federal database. Some signals were short by only a second or two, but most reports did not specify the length of time. Records show that after the malfunctions were discovered, Canadian National temporarily lowered the allowable train speed for all railroads using the affected tracks. The railroad administration said the problems "were primarily related to deposits from that caused a buildup of material on the rail surface.

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LA Commuter Train Crash Kills 25

Sep 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
A Los Angeles commuter train crash last Friday killed 25 people and injured 138.   Federal investigators are now on the scene of the grisly accident, trying to determine why the Metrolink train ran past stop signals and crashed head-on into an incoming freighter.  The fatal Metrolink train crash occurred around 4:22 on Friday, near Chatsworth, California, at the west end of the San Fernando Valley.  Officials said 220 people were aboard the Metrolink train, which was heading...

FRA: Study Supports Link Between Fatigue, Train Accidents

Dec 1, 2006 |
As part of an ongoing effort to target the highest risks and major causes of train accidents, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is releasing a study that, according to the agency, provides a strong scientific rationale for evaluating railroad employee work schedules to address worker fatigue. According to FRA, human factor errors are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all train accidents over the past 5 years. An FRA evaluation of the research findings confirms that fatigue plays a...

Freight Train Derailment Blocks Tracks in Everett

Nov 20, 2006 | AP
Freight train derailment blocks tracks in Everett Ten rail cars loaded with wood products jumped the tracks early Monday, blocking Amtrak passenger trains and Sound Transit service between Everett and Seattle. The derailment occurred shortly before 2 a.m. as the train was passing over a switch less than a mile south of the old Everett train station. Repair crews expected to reopen one set of tracks by 1 a.m. Tuesday and the other later that day, Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus...

Rail Crew Tried Brakes Before Derailment

Nov 11, 2006 | AP
Crew members aboard a runaway maintenance train that barreled down a steep Sierra Nevada slope tried frantically to slam on the emergency brakes before the locomotive derailed, investigators said. The bodies of two crew members were recovered Friday from the smoldering wreckage of Thursday's derailment, which spilled thousands of gallons of fuel near a thick forest and sparked a large fire. Eight other crew members aboard the train, which was carrying rail equipment, suffered minor injuries. ...

Blanco Wants Railroad Industry to Pay More for Louisiana's Railroad

Mar 25, 2005 | AP
At least 500 of Louisiana's railway crossings should be closed to vehicle traffic to help reduce the number of accidents involving vehicles and trains, the state's transportation chief said Thursday.Ten people have died this year at railroad crossings in Louisiana on pace to tie a state record set in the 1960s and the state is routinely among the top five states in the nation in such wrecks, according to Operation Lifesaver, a group that tracks the accidents nationwide.In 2003, Louisiana had...

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