I am seeing more and more derailments and crashes on the railroads that are caused by deteriorating tracks. This week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said poor track conditions along the Orange and Silver lines led to the derailment of a Metro train on Friday.
The Metro safety department revealed that two rails had become too wide due to deteriorating rail ties. More than 450 rail ties were replaced on the track between Ballston and West Falls Church after the derailment.
This finding alarms me as a railroad accident injury lawyer. Last year I highlighted a report that explained how deteriorating rails are causing accidents. Track and ballast integrity sensors could help identify these problems before derailments occur.
In the latest crash in Washington DC, a six-car Metro train derailed. The crash injured one rider and damaged two cars. It could have been much worse. The crash occurred near the East Falls Church Metro Station.
Metro said there was no evidence of train operator error leading up to the derailment. However, factors like car equipment, weather, high temperatures and other causes remain under review.
Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said a specialized track inspection was underway to make sure the problems that caused the derailment are not more widespread.
After the accident occurred service along the Orange and Blue lines was suspended until Monday morning to give time for a rigorous inspection and clean-up of the derailment site. Shuttle buses were used to ferry passengers between the affected Metro stops.
Problems with Tracks Are Causing Oil Trains to Crash
Last year, a report in the Los Angeles Times revealed track problems were behind many of the recent crashes of oil or ethanol trains.
Of 31 crashes involving crude or ethanol that have occurred on America’s railroads since 2013, 17 were related to track problems, the report stated.
The article pointed out the relentless pounding of the tracks from heavy trains can cause them to get wider and lead to derailments. Freight tracks in the U.S. are meant to be 56.5 inches apart. A mere three inches of movement can cause a train to derail. The report said even if tracks conform to federal standards, they can still separate under the force of a heavy train.
This is an alarming scenario for railroad workers and passengers alike. In recent years we have seen a series of fires and explosions as well as chemical leaks that have placed communities in danger.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a rail accident, you should contact me about your rights. Call (866) 455-6657.