New Train Safety Laws Could Curb Accidents

New Train Safety Laws Could Curb Accidents

Safety officials in the US are looking at ways to reduce the amount of train accidents occurring on trains carrying poisons and gases.  The National Safety Board is investigating a number of train incidents that caused deaths due to the accidental release of the train’s cargo.  The organization is looking into creating new federal laws that prohibit trains from traveling over certain speeds when going through populated areas.

In January, a train derailed in South Carolina after leaving the track and hitting a parked train.  The train was carrying chlorine that was released into the air and the resulting toxic cloud killed nine and injured some 250 people.  Over 5,000 nearby residents were evacuated from the area following the crash.

Another crash this past June in Macdona, Texas resulted in the deaths of three people, including the conductor of the train.  The train was traveling 45 mph and crashed into another train on a sidetrack without even braking.  Chlorine gas was also released in the Texas crash and a toxic cloud drifted some 10 miles.  Hundreds of nearby residents were evacuated.

In 2002 a North Dakota train carrying ammonia derailed and killed one person and seriously injured 11 others.  Over 140,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia was ejected into the air around the crash site.

In addition to the speeding problems involving the trains, the Federal Railroad Administration will be studying the tank cars themselves to see if their thickness or shape has anything to do with the accidents.  Engineers and others involved with operating the trains often have long schedules of non-stop work and the board will consider this aspect of the train wrecks as well.

In all, the new studies and investigations are the most sweeping potential changes to the train industry in the US that have taken place in recent history.  Whether their implementation results in a higher safety record remains to be seen.




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