Is High-Speed Rail Safe?

For anyone who has ridden in a high-speed train, the idea of a derailment is terrifying. Last week's crash of an Alvia train in Spain made such fears seem less irrational. Yonah Freemark examines whether high-speed rail is a safe mode of travel.
July 28, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Indeed, there have been a number of high-profile rail crashes over the years," acknowledges Freemark. "In 1998,101 riders were killed in Germany when a train crashed in Eschede. And in 2011, two of China's newest, fastest trains slammed into one another, killing 40 people."

"But those are exceptions to the rule, caused by poor maintenance and monitoring," he adds. "Rail, high speed or not, is one of the safest ways to get around. According to a National Safety Council review of 10 years of transportation fatalities, for every mile traveled, car drivers and passengers are more than 10 times as likely to die in accidents as passenger rail riders."

"These realities should relieve the concerns of those uncomfortable about investing billions of dollars in American intercity train networks," he concludes. "The international record shows that high-speed rail is very safe to use."

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Published on Friday, July 26, 2013 in CNN
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