Recent wrecks belie improving rail safety record

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 | Finance News

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The nation's railroads are safer than ever, despite recent high-profile accidents like this week's fiery derailment in Maryland.

Derailments and crossing accidents have steadily declined nationwide even as businesses have come to increasingly rely on trains to move their raw materials and products.

The number of train accidents fell 43 percent to 1,712 between 2003 and last year, while the number of incidents at rail crossings declined 34 percent, to 1,960. A Federal Railroad Administration spokesman said last year was the safest on record for the industry.

To improve safety, railroads have invested in their equipment and track, their employee training and in technological tools to help detect problems before they can derail a train.

The industry has done all that because safety is good for the bottom line.