Trains were once a very popular form of transportation. They dominated the industrial sector, moving goods and materials back and forth across the country. The creation of railroad tracks helped unify the country and made national trade more affordable. They were also the fastest and most reliable form of transportation for people for decades.
Chicago has always been a Midwestern hub. There are more than 9,000 miles of both commercial and passenger train tracks throughout the greater Chicago area. Unfortunately, despite the proliferation of train infrastructure, train tracks and crossings no longer receive the investment and maintenance they require for optimal safety.
Many train tracks and junctions are in a state of disrepair that can lead to derailments and other incidents. What does the poor condition of train infrastructure mean for those in the Chicago area?
Train-related incidents are a major safety hazard
People might assume that aging train infrastructure is a minor concern because people and businesses use trains less than they used to. However, those thousands of miles of tracks around the Chicago area still see regular use.
Dozens of trains bring passengers, products and raw materials in and out of the Chicago area every day. Some of those trains may experience issues that injure people on them or near them when something goes wrong. According to data about train derailments, trains coming off of the tracks where they run are a daily issue in the United States. There is an average of three derailments per day, some of which may lead to chemical spills or severe injuries to people nearby.
As if that weren’t bad enough, poor quality train infrastructure may affect how engineers and other professionals operate trains. They may need to slow down, which can cause traffic congestion as people wait at railroad crossings for the train to clear the public road. Drivers delayed by slow trains might then become increasingly aggressive toward others in traffic afterward.
In other words, the poor condition of train infrastructure around Chicago causes both direct risks in the form of crashes and derailments and indirect risks by contributing to the bad conduct of those operating motor vehicles. Recognizing how dangerous degraded train tracks can be may inspire those hurt in an incident involving a train – or tracks – to hold the business using the tracks accountable for their harm.