In the state of Maine, there are around 1,170 miles of railroad tracks. Along these tracks, Pan Am; Maine, Montreal & Atlantic Railroad; and other railroad companies carry passengers and freight. In the vast majority of situations, the trains travel uneventfully along the tracks to their destination.
In some instances, however, a train doesn’t manage to stay on the tracks. This is called derailment. Our Bangor injury attorneys know that train derailments can be a very serious problem and can result in people aboard or near to the train suffering serious injury. Fortunately, train derailments in Maine are relatively rare, although when they do occur the consequences can be disastrous.
Train Derailments in Maine
According to the Bangor Daily News , 69 trains derailed along the railroad tracks of Maine over a ten year period between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2012.
This isn’t a lot of derailments over a decade, and the news is even better than it seems because many of the incidents happened earlier in the decade. From 2009 to 2012, for example, there were only six derailments each year, down from 11 derailments in 2006. This indicates that there is a downward and stabilizing trend when it comes to train derailments.
Also good news is the fact that many of these train derailments were relatively minor, with some small cars coming off of the track but the train and all its cars staying upright. These accidents generally occurred at very low speeds- less than 10 miles per hour- which helps to explain why little or no damage was done by the derailment.
With so few derailments and with such minor damage caused by trains going off the track, many people overestimate the risks of train accidents. The Bangor Daily News indicates that this is because derailments are often sensationalized and over-emphasized in the media, making them seem like a big deal and making them seem more newsworthy.
Train Accidents and Toxic Exposure
While the data on train accidents and damages might paint a rosy picture of railroad travel in Maine, the trains are not without problems. One of the biggest issues in recent years seems to be that the train accidents are putting people at risk due to the things that the trains are carrying.
For example, in August of 2009, 20 out of 80 train cars jumped the tracks near Gilead, a town on the New Hampshire border. One of the cars was carrying a cargo with ethanol. The car was punctured and ethanol vapors escaped the train, necessitating an evacuation of a nearby camp.
Another incident occurred when four train cars on a 31-car train fell off the tracks and into the Penobscot River, resulting in the spill of more than 400-500 gallons of nonhazardous synthetic latex chemicals used in paper making. And, more recently, a 15-car derailment occurred in March as the train was carrying crude oil through Mattawamkeag.
These recent derailments have raised concerns about the movement of crude oil and potentially dangerous substances because, while there may be few derailments, the consequences can be great if the train cars that leave the tracks result in poisons or chemicals entering the land, water or air.
Remember, train accident victims can include those hit by or hurt on a train but they can also include others who suffered illness due to toxins, property damage or any other injury arising as a direct result of the train derailment.
If you are the victim of a Bangor train, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.
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