Washington, D.C. – March 3, 2023 – Newly released data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) confirms that thanks to railroad employee commitment to safety and ongoing industry investments, U.S. railroads continue to maintain a strong safety record. The train accident rate is down 28 percent since 2000, and the last decade was the safest ever.

Notable statistics, calculated per million train miles using data released in March 2023 by FRA, include:

  • Class I railroads’ mainline accident rate is down 49 percent since 2000. For all railroads, that rate has declined 44 percent since 2000.
  • For all railroads, the derailment rate is down 31 percent since 2000, but despite that longer-term positive trend, it was up by 5 percent year-over-year.
  • Track-caused accidents are down 55 percent since 2000 and are at their lowest-ever rate across the entire rail industry.
  • Equipment-caused accidents were down 21 percent since 2000 but increased by 15 percent compared to 2021.
  • Per Class I railroad employee, the casualty rate has dropped 63 percent since 2000 and is at an all-time low.
  • Per carload, the hazardous materials (hazmat) accident rate is down 78 percent since 2000 and the lowest ever based on preliminary Bureau of Explosives data.

“Last month, we all saw the devastating impact a train derailment can have on a community, and we are committed to continuing our industry’s efforts to prevent what happened in East Palestine from happening elsewhere,” said Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “This data makes clear that our employees’ strong safety culture, paired with the sustained, disciplined investments in maintenance and technologies that target the primary causes of accidents, deliver meaningful safety results. There is more work to do, but FRA’s data clearly reflects railroads’ steadfast safety commitment.”

U.S. railroads also continue to make strides in workplace safety. The employee casualty rate across all railroads is down 49 percent since 2000. Additionally, workplace fatalities have dropped 54 percent since 2000.

“Railroad workers are among the hardest-working and most dedicated workers in this economy, and keeping them safe on the job is paramount,” said Jefferies. “We know there is more work to do to keep getting better in all aspects of rail safety, but the progress we continue to make demonstrates that we will do what it takes to meet that challenge.”

The newly released FRA data also demonstrated areas where additional work is necessary to drive down risk and enhance safety, such as equipment-caused accidents noted previously. Additionally, while human factor-caused incidents are down 15 percent compared to 2000, the rate of these types of accidents increased 13 percent compared to last year, which also drove the yard accident rate up year-over-year.

Over 95% of rail-related fatalities are trespassers or grade crossing users. The combined total of trespasser and suicide fatalities for 2022 increased by 4% from 2021. Grade crossing collisions were down 23% last year compared to 2000, but along with trespass incidents, these preventable accidents remain persistent challenges across the rail industry.

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For more information, contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected]  or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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