The derailment of an Amtrak train in May brings the total number of train accidents for the year to five. Despite the Association of American Railroads boasting that 2014 was “the safest year on record for the railroad industry,” that claim is being scrutinized.
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) reviewed reports that railroad safety data suggests that although rail is safer now compared to recent decades, some indicators of safety have worsened over the last few years to include:
• For the last two years, hazardous materials releases have increased.
• Accidents involving fires have doubled since the past year.
And, it is expected that derailments will double, according to projections buried in government reports from the same agencies that are currently issuing new safety rules.
The overall rate of accidents have been steadily decreasing over the past few years but started to climb in 2015. Train accidents on Amtrak doubled at the beginning of the year, compared with the same period the year previous.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSBA), the train was traveling in excess of 100 mph, twice the limit in that area of track at the time of the crash that killed eight people.