AAR: 2012 is safest year in freight railroad history

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) recently announced that 2012 was the safest year in the rail industry's history, according to new statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Across a sweeping set of categories, rail industry safety showed marked improvement in 2012.

“Nothing is more important to railroads than safety and America’s railroads are safer today than ever before,” said Edward Hamberger, AAR president and CEO. “We are proud of the investments the rail industry has made to improve safety for employees, passengers and the public at large. Rail technology is constantly evolving and we will continue to invest in new technologies, training and processes aimed at preventing incidents before they ever happen.”

Overall, 2012 set a new record for railroad safety, breaking the previous record set in 2011, which in turn broke the record set in 2010. In 2012, compared to 2011, the train accident rate per million train miles was down 19 percent, the employee casualty rate was down nine percent and the grade crossing collision rate was down eight percent.

According to FRA data, from 1980 to 2012, the U.S. train accident rate fell 80 percent and the U.S. rail employee injury rate fell 85 percent. Since 2000, the declines have been 45 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Train collisions per million train-miles have dropped 87 percent since 1980 and 36 percent since 2000.

While railroads saw gains in the other safety categories, trespassing deaths increased in 2012. “These tragedies affect many communities across the country and the freight rail industry remains committed to public education efforts that warn youth of the dangers of playing on railroad tracks,” said Hamberger.

Categories: Class 1, Safety/Training, Shortline/Regional