Train length has increased 25 percent over the past decade, GAO says (July 3, 2019)

Melina Druga
July 3, 2019
The average train length has grown approximately 25 percent since 2008, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study. 

The average train lengths in 2017 were between 1.2 and 1.4 miles, according to the study.

The study was commissioned in 2017 when members of Congress asked the GAO to examine train length after constituents complained trains were blocking grade crossings in communities. Data had shown the average freight train had 70 cars, but news reports were indicating some trains with close to 200 cars or more.

The GAO found that there is little to no data being collected that measures whether train operators are receiving adequate safety training to handle longer trains and what impacts these trains have on communities.

Two recommendations were issued for the Federal Railroad Administration administrator in the report: develop a strategy for sharing research with stakeholders and implement that strategy for research on the safety impacts of very long trains and work with railroads to identify community-specific impacts of train operations and develop potential solutions.

The report was released Monday and results were announced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

  • Alert