FRA study reaffirms safety of push-pull rail service

Posted on June 26, 2006

A federal study of rail accidents found that trains being pushed have virtually no greater likelihood of derailing after a highway-rail grade crossing collision than one with a locomotive in the lead, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced Monday. The study reaffirms the conclusions of a previous report issued in July 2005 by the FRA that reviewed the safety of push-pull operations. The new analysis of grade crossing accidents found that from 1996 to 2005, only three push trains derailed out of 218 collisions and two pull trains derailed out of 290 collisions. The difference in the rate of derailment between push and pull modes is statistically insignificant 0.69 percentage points, Boardman noted. The report also determined that 27 fatalities occurred in push trains and 22 happened in pull trains during this same period. "The severity of an accident like Glendale is more likely to be influenced by chance than whether the train is being pushed or pulled," Boardman said of the January 2005 crash involving two Metrolink trains and an SUV. To read the full FRA Push-Pull report, go to www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/062606FRAPushPullLetterandReport.pdf

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