Alexandria, VA—June marks National Safety Month in the U.S., an annual observance led by the National Safety Council that highlights safety both inside and outside of the workplace. One of the topics of focus this year is something that speaks directly to railroading: building a safety culture.
As any railroader knows, safety is at the very core of how the rails are run. Indeed, the safety standards U.S. railroads set for themselves across their operations often exceed federal regulations—one factor that has built the safest freight rail system in the world.
Here’s a #ByTheNumbers look at modern U.S. freight rail safety.
34% — Decrease in the train accident rate since 2000. Going back even further, to when the Staggers Rail Act was passed in 1980, the accident rate has dropped by an astonishing 77%; this improvement correlates with over $710 billion of private investments into the rail network.
60 — The number of years since a fatality occurred due to the structural failure of a railroad bridge on any U.S. railroad. The 61,000 Class I railroads bridges are among the safest segments of the nationwide rail network.
20+ — The number of microprocessors in new state-of-the-art locomotives operating across the network. These locomotive supercomputers, in addition to being able to monitor critical functions and performance, are more reliable, fuel efficient and less polluting.
99.999% — The percentage of rail hazmat shipments that reach their destination without a release caused by an accident. In fact, trains are much safer than trucks for moving hazmat, with just 10% of the hazmat accidents trucks have despite moving nearly equal ton-mileage.
1999 — The year America’s railroads proactively formed the Rail Information Security Committee (RISC) to address rail cybersecurity because of concerns about Y2K.
Hundreds of trillions — The amount of bytes of information stored today in rail data warehouses that compile information via smart sensors across the network. This big data helps railroads identify and address problems before they happen.
20,000 — The number of state and local emergency responders across the country trained every year by railroads. Among other venues, railroads train first responders at their world-class Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Colorado. Since its inception in 1985, SERTC has trained more than 70,000 students worldwide.
98.5% — The percentage of required Class I route-miles that currently operate positive train control (PTC). PTC, a set of advanced technologies designed to automatically stop a train before certain incidents occur, will be fully implemented by the end of 2020.
ZERO — The number of accidents America’s freight railroads are striving toward. By constantly evolving, whether through the implementation of new technology or operating procedures, railroads won’t rest until they reach the goal of zero accidents.