When All Aboard Florida is ready to take on its first passengers in 2017, it will be operating in the safest era of the industry. Fatalities, accidents and equipment defects have been significantly reduced since Congress enacted The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and many states have put in place more effective measures to regulate railroad companies. There is still work to be done, but vast improvements have already been made in the system overall.
All Aboard Florida
All Aboard Florida is a passenger-rail system that will operate in Florida as far north as Orlando and as far south as Miami. All Aboard Florida train service will begin in 2017. The service will give travelers much needed relief from congested highways and airport terminals. Tourists and locals will be able to relax while they safely travel to their destination. They can socialize, get a bite to eat, and take in the view while avoiding traffic-related stresses commuting usually brings.
Rail safety is always on the minds of our elected officials in Congress as they try to find the funding to upgrade infrastructure in the United States and find new ways to improve the system. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 set into motion many inspections and improvements that have vastly improved rail safety. Of course, there are many more improvements needed, so the fight for funding is ongoing. All Aboard Florida is a new rail system with state-of-the-art equipment including Positive Train Control (PTC), which is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to automatically stop or slow a train before accidents occur.
As of 2013, safety standards with U.S. rail systems have resulted in great improvements:
- Accidents due to human factors were down 38%
- Track defects were down 37%
- Equipment defects were down 41%
North Americans are acting more like their European and South American counterparts by embracing rail systems in this new millennium. Residents of other countries have seen the benefits of rail travel and heavily depend upon it. In 2013 in the United States, Amtrak ridership was up 50%, setting a new record with 31.6 million passengers. There also has been a large surge in freight by rail in the past several years.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is constantly looking out for passenger-and-rail-workers safety. The agency inspects equipment in either automatically or physically and issues citations when a violation is found. It continually monitors, studies and helps create a safer, more efficient rail system.
On those rare occasions, when things do go wrong on a railroad, the human factor is usually responsible. In the accidents that the FRA were studied in 2013, 39% were caused by human factors and 31% occurred by the track. While overall, numbers have been greatly reduced, the accidents that occurred were mainly in those two categories. Rarely was the signal at fault. The FRA is monitoring areas of concern and finding new ways to address them.
Addressing Safety Issues
As of early 2014, the FRA had completed 30 of the mandated tasks required by Congress under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. These included tasks such as improvements to bridges and road-rail crossings, certifications for conductors and studies on improvements that can be made in safety and legal regulations. Once the task list is completed, the FRA will continue to seek out ways to improve rail performance and safety.
The Future of Rail
Using railroads for passenger service and touring such as All Aboard Florida has never been safer. Accidents and other safety issues are by as much as 41%. As travelers in the U.S. embrace this more efficient, environmentally-friendly form of travel, more and more of the government is focus will be on making improvements in railroad efficiency and safety. All Aboard Florida is the first privately-owned-and-operated rail system in the United States and will continue to grow as passenger rail becomes the standard for travelers in the U.S.