Change of U.S. freight-train derailment rate from 2000 to 2012

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

1 Scopus citations


A widely used measure for rail safety is accident rate, which is defined as the number of train accidents normalized by traffic exposure. Of interest in rail safety research is to understand the temporal trend of accident rates, the significant factors affecting the trend, as well as how to predict future accident rates. This paper presents a statistical analysis of U.S. freighttrain derailment rates from 2000 to 2012, based on information from the Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The analysis leads to several observations, including: • There is a significant temporal decline in Class I freight-train derailment rate (-5.8%) per year • The rate of change in accident rate varies by accident cause. Freight-train derailment rates due to broken rails or welds and track geometry defects declined by 7% annually, respectively; bearing-failure-caused derailment rate decreased by 11% annually; and derailment rate caused by train handling errors fell by 9% annually. Future train derailment rates are projected and can be used to evaluate the safety benefit of accident prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2015
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
ISBN (Electronic)9780791856451
StatePublished - 2015
EventASME/ASCE/IEEE 2015 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2015 - San Jose, United States
Duration: Mar 23 2015Mar 26 2015

Publication series

Name2015 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2015


OtherASME/ASCE/IEEE 2015 Joint Rail Conference, JRC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Rail safety
  • Regression
  • Statistical modeling
  • Temporal trend
  • Train accident rate


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