Rail

Audit says, rail traffic increased 64%

Posted on December 17, 2003

A U.S. government transportation watchdog warned on Monday of increasing congestion on the nation's rail networks, saying some routes cannot safely support growing passenger and freight demand, according to a Reuters report. "Despite railroad's investments, certain parts of the railroad system have become severly congested and cannot accommodate the conflicting demands of both increasing freight movement and increasing commuter and (Amtrak) traffic," said Kenneth Mead, the Transportation Department inspector general. Rail traffic has increased 64% since 1980 with strong growth forecast through 2020, according to an industry audit by Mead. More traffic combined with a steady decline in track miles and reductions in railroad staff to save money aggravates already crowded conditions, industry officials said. The audit found that problems are magnified by numerous infrastructure bottlenecks, including undersized bridges and tunnels, track design limits and outmoded communications sytems, said the news service. Although the report does not mention which routes were less able to handle their loads, a government industry analysis in 2002 showed the mid-Atlantic region was facing a capacity crisis.

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