The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) has issued a report — Back on Track II: How Innovation and Automation Improve Rail Safety — outlining considerable gains in safety by rail carriers, attributing much of the progress to an increased emphasis on technology and improving infrastructure integrity.
The paper is an update to a 2015 report that called for such actions to be taken, including the need for the industry to meet its obligations to implement the anti-crash technology, Positive Train Control (PTC).
While Aii notes that railroads must do more to reduce and eliminate accidents, research shows that the industry, particularly on the freight side, has taken tangible steps to reduce the primary causes of accidents while also meeting critical benchmarks in implementing PTC.
“Since publishing our prior report in 2015, we are encouraged by the progress made by railroads, particularly how this industry is implementing new safety technologies,” said Brigham McCown, chairman and founder at Aii. “With safety figures showing a slow plateauing effect though, the industry must still aggressively innovate and invest to make further progress. That said, lawmakers and regulators must do their part to encourage and not hinder this progress.”
Aii also addresses an important challenge: reducing fatalities at high-rail grade crossings, which totaled 270 in 2018 alone. “Technologies that would facilitate communication between different modes of transportation — in this case, trains, passenger vehicles and freight trucks — could go a long way in reducing grade crossing and incidents while save lives,” the report states.
To read the full report, click here.