Rail Line Blues

Rail Line Blues

If recent local headlines are any indication of national trends, train accidents come in all shapes and sizes. A collision in Washington County between two trains injured four people and derailed seven cars, and six people were injured when a train struck a bus in Fulton County. Last year, several people were injured and a woman was killed while shooting a movie scene in Wayne County when a train hit a movie prop that became deadly flying debris. The director of the film “Midnight Rider” pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, thereby becoming the first Hollywood director in history to be held responsible for a death on set. And in June, a woman walking on Macon train tracks was lucky to receive only a broken leg and broken finger after she was hit by a train going 20 miles per hour, carrying 45 loaded cars, powered by four locomotives and weighing 7,844 tons.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for more of the same. Experts are predicting that the country will continue to experience a high rate of train crashes unless the government spends more money on rail lines. Outside of the U.S., train travel is very popular and railway accident rates have declined steadily to levels that now rival those of the world’s safest airlines. Even though U.S. passenger rail networks are not very extensive, our safety record is among the worst. Research has shown a direct connection between government spending on railroad infrastructure and safety.

According to the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States invested less than 0.1 percent of its gross domestic product in rail systems in 2013, a quarter of what was spent by Britain and one-sixth of the investments by France and Australia.

Having the money to install technological advances, such as speed-alert systems and automatic braking systems, is also important. By 2030, the European Union aims to have standardized speed protection technology fully installed across its core rail network. Meanwhile, nearly seven years after Congress instructed U.S. railroads to install an automatic speed control system by the end of 2015, most railroads are expected to miss the deadline. But in a conundrum that benefits no one, many rail companies have deferred repairs to tracks, bridges and signals in order to meet the speed control installation goal within the next few years.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as the result of a railroad crash in Georgia, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation.