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Trains are 10 times safer than cars and trucks, largely because railroads have a safety culture that the public does not share. Accidents happen with any form of transportation, but railroads are serious and successful in minimizing them.
Railroads run with rigorous operating rules, employee accountability, and inspections.
Where railroads have less control is points of interaction with the public, such as grade crossings and with trespassers. 95% of rail related fatalities and injuries are grade crossing accidents and trespassers.
There are 1.38 accidents per million train miles, the vast majority of which are quite minor.
At the present time [January 2015], no crude oil is moved through Vermont, however it does move in quantity on the New York side of Lake Champlain.
Most heating oil, gasoline and propane in Vermont is delivered by rail and then trucked for local delivery. This is considerably safer than if it were trucked the whole way, next to you on the interstate. [Railroads and trucks carry roughly equal hazmat ton-mileage, but trucks have 16 times more hazmat releases than railroads]
In the last 10 years there have been 155 haz-mat releases in Vermont -- only 4 have been from rail transportation.
Movement of more dangerous chemicals through Vermont is infrequent.
99.998 percent of all rail cars containing hazardous materials arrived at destination safely, without any release due to an accident.
Nobody in the United State has died from a crude oil derailment. The Lac Megantic tragedy in Quebec has been the only one of its scale.
Volume spilled per ton shipped is lower for rail even though total spills per ton is three times more on railroads – rail spills are more contained. Injury and fatality rates per ton mile are similar, with rail slightly less safe.
The owners of the New England Central Railroad make a serious commitment to safety practices:
It should be noted that G&W railroads do more local customer switching than the big “class 1” railroads – usually considered more dangerous, which is why the short line railroads injury rate is so high
More information about Genesee & Wyoming's safty record is here.