Analysis of restricted speed related train accidents in the United States, 2000 to 2016

Zhipeng Zhang, Xiang Liu, Zheyong Bian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Railroads contribute to the national economy by carrying over 40% of intercity freight ton-miles in the United States. Train accidents cause damage to infrastructure and rolling stock, disrupt operations, and have the potential to result in casualties and damage the environment. A clear understanding and analysis of accident risk based on historical accidents can support the development and prioritization of effective accident prevention strategies. While extensive previous studies have focused on the safety risks associated with a variety of train operation conditions, much less work has been undertaken to evaluate train risk and safety under restricted speeds. As defined in 49 CFR 236 Subpart G, restricted speed is a speed that permits stopping within one-half the range of vision, but not exceeding 20 miles per hour. Nevertheless, some severe accidents at restricted speeds occurred in the last few years and are also highlighted in both NTSB and FRA reports. In this paper, we develop a quantitative analysis of restricted-speed accidents occurring between 2000 and 2016, based on the data from the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. While overall accident rates have been proven to decline in prior studies, the preliminary results show that the rate of train accidents under restricted speeds fluctuates in the study period, without a significant increasing or decreasing trend. Furthermore, the distribution of restricted-speed accident severity, accident risk, and other pertinent characteristics are covered in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2018
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791850978
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2018 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: Apr 18 2018Apr 20 2018

Publication series

Name2018 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2018


Other2018 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering


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