By Andrew Zirkle|USA
Amtrak’s safety record has become considerably more spotty over the last two months. Over the last 60 days, Amtrak has averaged 1 accident every 10 days. If accidents continue at this rate, Amtrak trains will have been involved in over 30 accidents by the end of 2018.
Of these 6 accidents over the last two months, 5 have been deadly, and 1 involved the derailment of a train. The most deadly of these 6 accidents occurred on December 18th, 2017, when a train derailed near DuPont Washington, killing 3 passengers and injuring more than 80 others. Another prominent crash occurred on January 31st when a train full of Republican lawmakers struck a garbage truck and killed its driver near Crozet, Virginia.
Deadly collisions in North Carolina, California and South Carolina, as well as a train separation in Maryland, round out the rest of the 6 accidents that have happened in the last 6 months. These 6 accidents have killed 8 people and injured around 200 people. If this dangerous trend continues, in addition to 37 accidents, Amtrak could be responsible for around 47 deaths and over 1000 injuries.
Amtrak is owned by the federal government and receives money from the federal government to subsidize repairs and upgrades. Despite Amtrak’s dependence on federal funding, recent budgets have decreased Amtrak funding dramatically. The total dollar amount given to Amtrak has been reduced from 1.565 Billion in 2010 to 1.385 Billion in 2016. The Amtrak budget is expected to be reduced again in 2018. President Donald Trump’s proposed FY2018 budget is slated to slash transportation spending by about 13% and is expected to make major cuts specifically to Amtrak’s long-distance service.
In addition to a reduced budget for Amtrak, the proposed FY2018 budget also reduces the funding for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency responsible for investigating rail accidents and enforcing rail safety rules and regulations. Although the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans have promised national infrastructure upgrades, many leading Congressional Democrats have criticized this reduction in the transportation budget as a decision running counter to the promises of the Trump administration.
Despite a growing number of recent accidents involving Amtrak trains, it remains one of the safest alternatives – far safer, mile for mile, than road travel.
Data Regarding Amtrak grants can be found here