Highway-Rail Crossing Fatalities Reach Record Low in ‘03

Washington – The nation’s rail transportation system achieved a record low number of highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2003, statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) show.

Preliminary full-year statistics compiled by the FRA also reveal similar improvements for other key measures of industry safety, despite an increase in the overall number of train-miles operated.

“These improvements in rail safety reflect increased focus on preventive safety by the FRA, railroad labor, and the industry at-large,” said FRA Administrator Allan Rutter. “We are hopeful that the gains we’re highlighting today will continue in the years to come.”

In 2003, highway-rail grade crossing fatalities declined to a record low of 324, down 9 percent from last year and a more than 47 percent since 1994. There were 862 rail-related fatalities last year, down almost 10 percent from 2002. 96 percent of those fatalities are the result of highway-rail crossing collisions or trespassing.

“These results show that we’re taking the right approach,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “We’re having success reminding people to yield at grade crossings and providing funds for needed improvements.”

Also during 2003, a record low 19 railroad employees were killed. Reportable employee injuries declined to 5,948 in 2003, a decrease of 10.5 percent over the 6,644 reported in 2002, and a 30 percent decline since 2000.

2003 Rail Safety Statistics Highlights

·        The nation’s 674 freight railroads operated 749,061,176 train miles during 2003, a 2.8 percent increase from 2002 and a 14.3 percent increase since 1994. Amtrak and other commuter railroads operated 15,539,433,007 passenger miles.

·        There were 2,919 highway-rail grade crossing incidents, an all-time low; a 5.1 percent decline from 2002 and a 41.4 percent decrease from 1994.

·        There were 324 highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, an all-time low; a 9 percent decline from 2002 and a 47.3 percent decrease from 1994.

·        The highway-rail incident rate fell to 3.90 per million train-miles, an all-time low. This is a 7.6 percent decline from 2002 and a 48.7 percent decrease from 1994.

·        There were 862 total rail-related fatalities, an all-time low. This represents a 9.4 percent reduction from 2002 and a 29.7 percent decrease from 1994.

·        Of the 862 total, 96.4 percent were either highway-rail crossing incidents (324) or trespassers (507).

·        There were 19 employee on-duty fatalities, an all-time low. This represents a 5 percent decline from last year and a 38.7 percent decrease from 1994.

·        The employee on-duty casualty rate fell to 2.67 per 200,000 hours worked, an all-time low. This represents a 9.2 percent decline from 2002 and a 47.2 percent decrease from 1994. Casualty includes fatalities and injuries.

·        There were 9,632 total railroad casualties, an all-time low. This represents a 20.1 percent decrease from last year and a 46.6 percent decrease from 1994.