Passenger Train Derailment Raises Concern for Safety Measures

10/30/15

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The recent derailment of an Amtrak train bound for Washington DC conjures traveler fears and safety concerns. The Vermonter carrying 98 passengers and four crew members hit fallen rocks in Northfield, Vermont sending three cars tumbling down an embankment but remaining upright. Nonetheless, seven passengers and one crew member were injured, none with life threatening injuries.

As thankful as the rail travelers are that this event did not cause any fatalities, concern for passenger rail safety is growing. While investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and National Transportation Safety Board arrived to inspect the derailment site, it became clear that the need for additional ongoing safety management programs and both equipment and track inspections is huge.

Earlier this year another Amtrak passenger train en route from Washington DC to New York derailed as it rounded a sharp curve, causing multiple deaths and injuries. This tragedy was caused by high travel speeds. The fact remains that rail safety is critical as commuter congestion continues to increase pushing transportation systems to their capacity and infrastructure limits.

Here are five critical issues for passenger rail safety.

People – The most critical part of any system is having well vetted and trained operators. People choose to be safe. Operators need to be able to identify unsafe situations and take immediate, effective action to safeguard passengers.

Safety culture – Everyone in the organization needs to understand that safety comes before everything else. The culture needs to be obvious and regularly communicated through actions and words.

Maintenance – A strong maintenance program is also critical for both rolling stock and the tracks. Scheduled repairs ensure that breakdowns are kept to a minimum and the regular track inspection greatly reduces the likelihood of a derailment.

Insurance coverages– Insurance policies need to address the various risks and provide coverage for the possibility of catastrophic loss.

Crash/loss managementCritical loss plans include engagement of emergency responders, public relations, use of outside vendors, alternative modes of transportation and how investigation losses must be in place.

Like transportation services, businesses are just as vulnerable to catastrophe, threats and security risks. HUB risk advisors provide educational materials and best practices to mitigate the impact of such incidents. Protect your business by planning for the worst and being prepared for recovery. Contact a HUB risk advisor today.