According to recent data, major U.S. railroads are experiencing an increase in accidents, raising concerns about the safety of the nation’s railways. Union Pacific, the largest railroad in the United States, reported a 32 percent increase in accidents, while BNSF, the second-largest railroad, showed a 10 percent increase. CSX, the third-largest railroad, also reported a 31 percent increase in accidents in the 10-month period. However, Norfolk Southern stood out with a significant improvement, reporting 29 accidents in the first 10 months of 2023 on its main lines, down 37 percent from the same period in 2022.
Mr. Jefferies, a spokesperson for the railroads, acknowledged the increase in accidents and stated that steps have been taken to enhance safety measures. The industry had previously required railroads to stop and remove a rail car if a wheel bearing’s temperature hit 200 degrees Fahrenheit, but in July, the association required that action be taken at 170 degrees. This adjustment was made in response to the East Palestine accident, where a wheel bearing on a train reached 253 degrees.
Union Pacific’s company spokeswoman, Kristen South, attributed some accidents to factors beyond the railroad’s control, such as objects on the track. She emphasized the importance of focusing on “serious” derailments, which she stated had decreased by 5 percent at Union Pacific. Similarly, BNSF’s spokeswoman, Kendall Kirkham Sloan, asserted that the company was the safest railroad in the country, based on the federal government’s safety measures, and attributed the increase in accidents to be reduced by training and technology.
Despite the overall increase in accidents, CSX’s spokesman, Bryan Tucker, highlighted the company’s efforts to improve safety by bolstering its training. This led to a steep drop in accidents in the fourth quarter of 2023, resulting in a slightly lower accident rate compared to the previous year.
In light of the data, concerns regarding the safety of the nation’s railways have been raised. There is a need for continued vigilance and further measures to ensure the safety of railroad operations and the protection of passengers and employees.