Train Accidents Wreak Havoc in Nation’s Heartland

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

On the fourth of July, a couple in Glenview Illinois were killed when a freight train derailed, caused an overpass to collapse, and crushed the car they were traveling in. The Lindner’s bodies—a married couple both near 70 years old—were taken from the crash site after crews spent nearly 17 hours digging through debris. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the couple’s family. It alleges that Union Pacific was negligent in their maintenance of the track on the overpass. This is not the only major train accident to occur recently. 

On Wednesday July 11, a Norfolk Southern train in Columbus, Ohio derailed. Nearly 100 people were asked to evacuate their homes as dangerous gas on derailed train cars continued to burn. Two people were injured. 

In Oklahoma, a recent head on collision between Union Pacific freight trains led to the deaths of three people and more than $15 million dollars of property damage. The NTSB report on the cause of the crash may take up to a year. 

Freight trains are not the only trains involved in accidents recently either. In 2011, an Amtrak train in Nevada was involved in a crash that caused the death of its conductor, a truck driver, and injured at least 100 passengers. The conductor’s family and three of the injured passengers have lawsuits pending. The suits allege that the crossing gates came down late or not at all, allowing a truck to drive onto the tracks leading to the deadly crash. The railroad company and Nevada Department of Transportation are being accused of not providing enough safety precautions at the Northern Nevada crossing. 

With plans to build a high-speed rail from Los Angeles to California in the works, there is the possibility that rail accidents involving passenger trains may increase in the coming years. Furthermore, with little hope for a speedy resolution to the nation’s economic woes, agencies tasked with overseeing freight and passenger train safety may continue to face lawsuits as state, federal, and local agencies seek to manage daily expenses in increasingly tight fiscal environments. Less oversight and more “efficiency” may lead to more train accidents in the coming years. 


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