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Train derailments are a serious concern for the safety of passengers, railway staff, and the general public. They can cause severe damage to property and the environment, and in the worst cases, they can result in fatalities. Train derailments can occur due to various reasons, such as track defects, equipment failure, operator error, or weather conditions. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the frequency and causes of train derailments to prevent them from happening and to mitigate their consequences.

The average number of train derailments per year depends on several factors, such as the type of trains, the region, the infrastructure, and the safety measures in place. The International Union of Railways (UIC) collects data on train accidents and incidents worldwide and reports them annually. According to the UIC’s latest statistics, the global number of train derailments decreased by 5.5% from 2020 to 2021, with a total of 1,076 derailments reported in 2021.

In the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) tracks train accidents and incidents and publishes them in its Annual Report on Railroad Safety. According to the FRA’s latest report, there were 1,826 train accidents and incidents in 2020, which included 33 train derailments. The number of train accidents decreased by 11.2% compared to the previous year, while the number of train derailments increased by 6.5%.

The average number of train derailments per year in the United States has been fluctuating over the past decade, depending on various factors such as the condition of the tracks, the age of the equipment, the weather, and the volume of traffic. The FRA’s data shows that the highest number of train derailments in recent years occurred in 2017, with 44 derailments reported. In contrast, the lowest number of train derailments occurred in 2019, with 27 derailments reported.

Although train derailments can happen anywhere, certain regions and routes are more prone to them due to factors such as the geography, the climate, and the traffic density. For instance, the FRA’s data shows that the highest number of train derailments in 2020 occurred in the Midwest region, with 13 derailments reported. The Northeast region had the second-highest number of train derailments, with 8 reported, followed by the Southern region, with 7 reported.

The causes of train derailments can vary from one incident to another, but some factors are more prevalent than others. According to the FRA’s data, the top causes of train derailments in 2020 were:

  • Track defects: 14 incidents
  • Human error: 6 incidents
  • Equipment failure: 4 incidents
  • Other causes: 9 incidents

To prevent train derailments, railway companies and authorities implement various safety measures, such as regular inspections of tracks and equipment, training of staff, implementation of safety protocols, and use of advanced technologies such as positive train control (PTC). PTC is a GPS-based system that automatically stops a train before it can enter a dangerous section of track, such as a curve or a work zone. The FRA has mandated the implementation of PTC on all passenger and freight railroads by the end of 2022 to enhance safety and prevent accidents.

In conclusion, the average number of train derailments per year depends on various factors such as the type of trains, the region, the infrastructure, and the safety measures in place. While the global number of train derailments has been decreasing, there is still a need for constant monitoring and improvement of safety measures to prevent accidents and protect passengers and staff.