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Passenger and freight trains share tracks more often than you think
by Chris Isidore • @CNNMoney • February 5, 2018
Sunday’s fatal crash shows the risks when freight and passenger trains share the same tracks.
In fact, most of the passenger trains in the United States operate on tracks shared with freight lines. And rail lines are for the most part privately owned by the freight railroads.
Sunday’s crash happened when an Amtrak train operating on CSX tracks in South Carolina was misdirected into a stopped freight train, killing the Amtrak engineer and conductor and injuring more than 100 passengers.
The signal system along the section of track where the crash occurred wasn’t working at the time, so the tracks were being manually controlled by CSX, Amtrak CEO and president Richard Anderson told CNN on Sunday. According to Anderson, CSX has complete control of the tracks, signals and switches in the area where the crash happened.
CSX has not denied responsibility for the crash, which is under investigation by federal safety regulators. The freight railroad, which operates 21,000 miles of track east of the Mississippi, says it hosts more passenger rail traffic than any other major railroad.
There are five major U.S.-based freight railroads — CSX, Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP), Kansas City Southern (KSU) and BNSF, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA). In addition, Canadian National (CNI) and Canadian Pacific (CP) operate partly in the United States. While Amtrak has some of its own tracks, such as in the Northeast Corridor, about 70% of the miles traveled by Amtrak trains are on tracks owned by freight railroads
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