CSX Freight

I grew up a block from a railroad.  I am aware of the awesome power and danger or railroads, having laid pennies on the track as a kid.  Moreover, it was a once every five to ten year occurrence that someone died or was severely injured on the tracks.  With that in mind I am pleased that the National Transportation Safety Board announced a drop in railroad fatalities in 2008.  Fatalities dropped from 794 in 2007 to 777 in 2008.

I have written previously on the necessity of factoring in safety when making transportation policy decisions.  Railroads are an incredibly safe means of transporting goods in people.  The fatality rate is even more sparkling when juxtaposed with the 39,397 total transportation deaths last year in the US.  Moreover, 14 of the rail deaths last year were due to car driver inattentiveness at grade crossings.

American freight is going to continue to move in enormous quantities, especially given the size of the continent.  Given the choice between placing that freight on rail or on the highways on which we drive the choice for rail should be clear.  Rail is the safest choice and the best choice for other financial reasons as well.  Trucks take an enormous toll on the shape and quality of roads, and hence their safety.  See the Missouri Department of Transportation’s depiction below. (H/T Infrastructurist)

Trains can crush pennies, but they are so much safer than putting freight on the back of an 18-wheeler.  America should continue to invest in rail infrastructure with the goal of shipping more freight on rails and saving more lives.