US & Canada

US train risks explained - in three charts

A passenger train that derailed in Philadelphia, killing at least seven people, was travelling at twice the speed limit, say safety experts. So how safe are US trains?


Amtrak's busiest operations take place along what's known as the Northeast Corridor, which stretches from Washington to Boston. The map below shows how many train accidents have occurred along this route, according to state and county data from the Federal Railroad Administration.


The exact cause of this weekend's crash is still unconfirmed but the chart below takes a historic look at train accidents from all US rail lines. Most accidents are caused by either a human factor or track issues.


There's been no shortage of criticism over the years of how antiquated the US rail system is compared to European and Asian countries. An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute shows how fewer miles Americans have to travel to statistically be more at risk for injury. The author, Kevin Hassett, writes: "Based on data spanning the period 2004-12, for example, to expect one transit-related injury, a passenger would need to ride the French railroad for 4.9 million miles or the German railroad for 4.1 million miles. Yet he would need to ride America's railroads for only 84,300 miles, on average, to sustain one injury."

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