This one was outside Baltimore, killing two 19-year-old women who were students at universities in the area. USA Today and the Baltimore Sun have the awful story.
This marks at least the second deadly coal train derailment in the US this summer after two people were killed in Chicago on July 4 when a coal train tumbled off an overpass and crushed the car they were traveling in.
At National Wildlife Federation, Peter LaFontaine has put together an interactive map documenting the dozen-plus coal train derailments in 2012. It’s a worrisome look at the direct threat posed by extremely heavy trains traveling at high speeds in populated areas.
As I’ve said before with respect to freight rail, there are some risks and annoyances that are worth putting up with. Moving high-value freight and supporting a stable base of jobs justify some hassles. But clogging our rails and backing up our streets with a low-value commodity that supports few jobs, is notoriously unreliable, is a huge threat to the planet’s climate, and results in serious air pollution problems?
I’m having a hard time seeing the upside.
Out of curiosity, are coal trains more, less, or equally prone to derailments compared to other commodity trains? I’ve seen tanker cars for liquids–those seem like they’d be pretty heavy too.
Eric de Place
I don’t have any special insight into your question, but we do know that coal dust can weaken the track structure and increase the risk of derailments.
Nope, any train is capable of derailing. Heat, cold, lack of maintenance can all cause derailments. Grain trains, coal trains, coke trains, ore trains all run in heavy “unit” (meaning, the same bulk commodity in the same train)
To answer your question though, equal.
Gosh, I had heard NOT equal.
That coal dust clogs the track bed drainage.. and when frozen cracks more than well drained track beds. I heard that coal tracks require tremendously more maintenance… ( hey more jobs!)
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