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The Potential for Train Derailment Raises Safety Concerns about High Speed Rail

June 18, 2014

While commuter trains, freight trains, cross-country passenger trains, and other rail lines may collide with motor vehicles or jump the track at any speed, the push for high speed trains that move at speeds in excess of 220 mph could potentially increase the frequency and severity of train accidents. Although there are many benefits to having high-speed trains as an alternative to motor vehicle and air travel, it is important to understand that the infrastructure must be in place and safety tested before this becomes a popular mode of transportation.

There are several important issues that U.S. railroad industry regulators may wish to consider in order to prevent devastating train derailment crashes that could claim the lives of many people and lead to severe injuries in countless other victims. Some of the important considerations are:

The Potential Danger of High Speed Rail Lines: There is a growing focus in the United States on building high-speed rail lines, which also are known as "bullet trains," similar to those throughout Europe. The safety of such high-speed trains may need to be carefully assessed prior to an extensive shift toward high-speed rail trains. A report in The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, indicates that the government has sanctioned a top expert in high-speed rail to review the safety of the trains over there. Professor Peter Woodward, a world-renowned expert on geo-engineering of railways, has indicated that high-speed trains pose new safety issues that "may threaten the stability and safety of the train." Woodward published a report indicating that a new high-speed train being proposed could result in "significant amplification of train-track vibrations" that could result in "rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast, including derailment and ground failure." It is important for U.S. regulators to pay attention to these findings.

Risk of Mechanical Failure: When there is more strain placed on the mechanics of the train, there is a greater risk of mechanical failure. The increased risk associated with passenger trains and freight rail lines moving at much greater speeds may make the monitoring of safety equipment a significant priority if high speed rail becomes common in the U.S., which means that the regulators will need to plan for the increase in staff necessary to ensure the safety of train passengers and those who work or live near high-speed tracks. When train companies do not properly maintain trains, tracks, switches and crossing signals, the railroad can be liable for terrible train accidents and derailments. In addition, there may be some government liability, depending on the regulatory oversight requirements that are included as high-speed rails become more prevalent.

Put Our Law Firm's 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work for Your Case

As high-speed trains become a part of the travel industry in the United Stated, it is important to remember that everyone involved with this expansion exercise extraordinary care when it comes to the safety of consumers and those living or working near these new train lines. If you or someone close to you is injured in a railroad accident, regardless of whether it was a high-speed train line, our experienced Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Montlick & Associates provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You also can visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or Free 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.