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Train brings risk of deadly railroad accidents

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Train brings risk of deadly railroad accident.

A rail safety expert is warning that the risk of deadly railroad accidents will rise dramatically on the Treasure Coast.  This risk comes with the operation of high-speed passenger trains.

Martin County has released a  report by national rail safety  expert George Gavalla that looked at the effects of a project like Brightline running on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

Some of the key points in Gavalla’s  report:

  • There are unique safety risk factors related to AAF running on FEC tracks. Gavalla notes that the FEC has more at grade crossings per mile than any other major railway in the country.  Because the rail line traverses densely populated areas, the FEC has a grade crossing accident rate that is more than double the national average.
  • The FEC rail line is among the deadliest in the nation. Gavalla’s findings show the current FEC rail line is among the deadliest in the U.S. It has one of the highest crossing accident fatality rates in the country.

  • The FEC grade crossing accident rate is more than double the national average. The fatality rate  is 4.0 times the national rate.

    The fatality rate for pedestrians along the railroad right-of-way is seven and one-half times worse than the national average. These numbers are based on data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

  • The risk of deadly accidents will increase greatly if AAF becomes operational. No other passenger rail system in the U.S. combines fast-moving passenger trains (110 mph) and freight trains (70 mph) on the same rail line, running through densely populated urban and coastal recreation areas with such a high concentration of tourists and seasonal visitors. The number of trains and the speed of the trains are major factors in railroad crossing and pedestrian accidents. Train speeds will nearly triple from an average of 32 mph to 110 mph.  The number of trains traveling through the Treasure Coast (both passenger and freight) is projected to quintuple should AAF become operational through the Treasure Coast.
  •  Increased risk of catastrophic accidents and deadly derailments on crowded passenger and freight train rail lines due to “secondary” collisions.

  • AAF proposes to run both passenger and freight on FEC tracks. A passenger train could derail at high speeds and collide with a freight train or with another passenger train standing or moving on an adjacent track in what is known as a “secondary collision.”

The county claims that paying for safety upgrades would cost taxpayers over $31-million by 2040. It is supporting the Florida High Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act.

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