My colleague Rick Shapiro posted an article discussing the increase in railroad worker death rates in 2008, compared to 2007.
The Federal Railroad Administration maintains statistics from all Class One and other short line railroads. The statistics are in for calendar year 2008 and they showed that there were 11,144 railroad accidents/incidents in 2008 for the first 11 months. The FRA office of safety analysis stated that that was a decrease of 11.2% from the like period since 2007. However, the total number of Railroad employee deaths was 23 in 2008, compared with 16 in the prior year, which constitutes nearly a 50% increase in railroad worker deaths. Also, there were 271 Highway-rail grade crossing deaths for the first 11 months of 2008, which was down 11% from 2007. It appears that the number of accidents (railroad derailments, railroad crossing, railroad accidents) on the railroads were down and this is partly attributable to better safety practices at railroads.