Are Trains in the United States Really More Dangerous than in Europe?

Amtrak's Adirondack at Saratoga Springs, NY.  Lowell Silverman photography, 2011
Amtrak’s Adirondack at Saratoga Springs, NY. Lowell Silverman photography, 2011

This post is based on a reply to Chris Elliott’s article Is Train travel safe in America? which he published on his website yesterday. 

Elliott, as well as writers in the Washington Post, BBC, and Fortune have all quoted Kevin A. Hassett’s article, Mind the gap, without critique.  The article provides no sources or hard numbers, nor a link to the study that purports to document how unsafe American railroads are compared to European ones.  The anecdote opening the article about Hassett’s bad experience having his train delayed (something which, of course, no airline or automobile passenger has ever experienced in this country) should be a clue that this is not a serious piece of research.

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