Benefit-cost analysis of infrastructure improvement for derailment prevention

Xiang Liu, Mohd Rapik Saat, Christopher P.L. Barkan

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

9 Scopus citations


U.S. railroad accident rates have declined substantially since the 1980s; however, further improvement in train safety remains an important objective of the railroad industry. In this paper, we describe a framework developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of railroad infrastructure improvement to reduce railroad train accidents. Higher FRA track classes have been shown to be statistically correlated with lower accident rates, thereby indicating potential safety benefits. However, such infrastructure improvement also increases both capital and operating costs for track maintenance. We use accident data from the U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) accident database and cost data from several recent U.S. railroad infrastructure maintenance projects presented in an FRA report to quantitatively evaluate the safety benefits and costs associated with infrastructure improvement decisions. Our model is intended to consider the trade-off between reduced accident rates and increased costs in evaluating railroad risk reduction strategies and operational decisions. The benefit-cost analysis framework is illustrated by considering the upgrade of track class 3 to class 4 in a hypothetical case study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ASME Joint Rail Conference 2010, JRC2010
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventASME 2010 Joint Rail Conference, JRC2010 - Urbana, IL, United States
Duration: Apr 27 2010Apr 29 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Joint Rail Conference 2010, JRC2010


OtherASME 2010 Joint Rail Conference, JRC2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityUrbana, IL

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation


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