Analysis: Track Defects, Human Error To Blame for Train Derailments

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Dozens of crude oil-carrying train derailments in recent years have prompted federal regulators to focus on tanker car safety, but a newspaper’s analysis of federal records show that track defects and human error are to blame for most incidents.

In the first of a three-part series, The Columbus Dispatch reports that trains carrying Bakken crude oil have made safety an issue in cities across the country, including Columbus.

U.S. rail authorities have focused on tanker cars, spurring regulations that carry an estimated $1.7 billion in upgrades aimed at making the cars less likely to spill during derailment.

But the newspaper says records show that about one-third of train incidents in the past 20 years involved track problems, and slightly more than one-third of incidents were caused by human error.