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3 reasons a train might derail

Trains are one of the most important modes of transportation in the United States and around the world. While they are no longer the primary means of travel as they were in the 1920s and 30s, they persist as an integral part of transit, and this is especially true in places such as New York City. If you have ever ridden the subway, you know how convenient it is, but you also know it can be unsafe.

Though injury and accident rates are low, they do happen, and sometimes a major accident causes multiple passengers to be injured. If a train is derailed, for example, the consequences can be devastating. These three following examples illustrate some of the potential causes of derailment: 

Mechanical failure

Mechanical failure is one of the most common causes of train derailment anywhere. According to the New York Times, this problem has been to blame for more than one derailment in NYC as recently as last year. Many parts of a train can malfunction and cause it to derail. Broken wheels, failure of running gear and axle box malfunction are just a few of the mechanical issues that can contribute.

Impact of collision

It is also true that a collision can cause a train to derail. If a train collides with another train, or if there is a car on the tracks, it is very likely that a derailment will result. Other vehicles are not the only objects of collision that can trigger derailment, though. Any foreign object on the track, if it is big enough, is liable to collide with a train and cause it to derail.

Operator error

It is an unfortunate fact that many train derailments are entirely preventable. This includes any that occur due to the error of the train operator. Operating a train is complex, and while NYC transit drivers receive extensive training, error is still possible--and these errors can be deadly. If an operator makes a mistake in steering or stopping the train, a derailment may be likely.

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