The Virginian Pilot newspaper reported that the number of passengers using Amtrak has gone up dramatically in the first part of 2008. High gas prices make driving your own car less attractive compared to good train service where you can get it, particularly in the Northeast states like New York and around Washington D.C. This is great news for Amtrak which provides a valuable service for commuters and other passengers. Only recently the Bush administration had been moving to kill Amtrak funding.
Amtrak transported over 2.7 million passengers in July, 2008 up 14% from 2007. This figure was also the most ever for one month on Amtrak. The chief executive officer of Amtrak indicates that the company needs to double its fleet of trains in order to handle what it expects will be a doubling of ridership in 10 years. Now approximately 25 million people use Amtrak trains each year.
However, with increased ridership comes increased likelihood of passenger injuries and claims. Our law firm has often handled Amtrak passenger claims in the past. Serious injury can happen, for example, when the train fails to pull up to the appropriate platform causing a trip and fall hazard for people getting on or off the train. Of course, there are also mass disasters like derailments and even head on collisions between two trains. Our firm has helped people who were hurt both as workers and as passengers caught in major rail accidents in Virginia (VA) and Maryland (MD). For railroad workers, the good news of more riders means more need for railroad conductors, engineers and on-board attendants to handle the increased traffic. Inevitably, because of the danger of railroad work, there will also be more FELA claims for injuries to the Amtrak employees who run the railroad.