United States - rail accidents and incidents 2013-2018

This statistic represents the number of rail accidents and incidents in the United States from 2013 through 2018. In 2018, the United States registered some 824 rail fatalities.

Positive Train Control (PTC)

Ever since the enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), the U.S.’ freight rail industry has been working on implementing the Positive Train Control (PTC) technology on over 60,000 miles of the rail network. The original deadline of December 31, 2015 was extended to 2018 after several railroads have stated they are unable to meet the deadline due to technical and legal complications.

The Positive Train Control consists of a bundle of state-of-the-art technologies meant to avoid accidents caused by human error, track or equipment malfunction, faulty movement of trains through a grade crossing, breaches on railroad tracks and other types of train operator errors. More precisely, PTC aims to prevent train-on-train collisions, deflections caused by excessive speed or other derailments on tracks where maintenance operations are underway.

The technology uses a number of factors like weight and length of the train, track composition, train speed and train authorization in order to calculate the adequate stopping distance for a train. The PTC system includes an onboard locomotive system that monitors the position and speed of the train and triggers braking in case of speeding or unapproved train movement; a wayside system to check track signals, switches and track circuits for movement authorization; and a back office server that stores all relevant rail traffic information.

Until 2015, 6.4 billion U.S. dollars have been spent for the PTC deployment on over more than 2,300 of track miles and more than 4,500 locomotives. By 2020, the total costs will rise to more than 10 billion U.S. dollars.

Number of rail accidents and incidents in the United States from 2013 to 2018

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Release date



United States

Survey time period

2013 to 2018

Supplementary notes

To retrieve the data, select the Start month and End month and click Generate Report.
Includes freight railroad, Amtrak, and commuter rail operations.
Accidents/incidents includes all events reportable to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration under applicable regulations. These include: train accidents comprised of collisions, derailments, and other events involving the operation of on-track equipment and causing reportable damage above an established threshold; highway-rail grade crossing incidents involving impact between railroad on-track equipment and highway users at crossings; and other incidents involving all other reportable incidents or exposures that cause a fatality or injury to any person, or an occupational illness to a railroad employee.

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Statistics on "Rail industry"

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