US freight trains are getting longer – is that safe?

Freight trains as long as 8 kilometres transport goods in the US, but in light of recent derailments, some are asking if current safety guidelines are up to scratch


| Analysis

23 February 2023

Freight trains in the US can be kilometres long

Getty Images Source: Moment RF

Freight trains are getting longer in the US. Thousands of such trains, often more than a kilometre long, run safely every day. But a recent derailment and resulting chemical spill in Ohio has raised questions about whether longer trains are at a higher risk of derailing.

In the first five weeks of 2023 leading up to the derailment, more than 1 million train carloads of coal, chemicals, minerals, grain, automobiles and petroleum successfully rode the railroads crisscrossing every state except Hawaii.

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