A Canadian National freight train derailed on the edge of Rockford, Illinois last Friday. A female driver stopped at a railroad crossing lost her life due to the train derailment. In addition, several of the freight train cars carrying ethanol gas exploded, incurring burn injuries on several occupants of the car.
Train derailments, when and where they occur, almost always bring about serious damages if not loss of life. Railroads are, generally speaking, our safest method of transporting potentially dangerous materials (far safer than, say, commercial trucks). Though railroads have such high potential for reliable and safe transportation, there is undoubtedly much room for improvement. Specifically, if we are going to continue to count on railroads to safely transport potentially deadly materials, shouldn’t we also expect that railroads will pursue improved safety as an extremely important area of investment?
Events like this are avoidable with greater systems safety. For the sake of the public, railroads cannot ignore their obligation for increased safety engineering.