According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there are more than 3,000 train accidents every year. In addition, the FRA reports that most rail crossings are inadequate with more than 80% lacking sufficient warning signals and equipment. In the state of Texas in 2012 alone, there were 271 train accidents, along with 44 derailments and 24 fatalities. Many were clearly due to insufficient warning signals and defective equipment.
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Capital MetroRail is one of Austin’s regional public transportation options. The metro rail runs along 32 miles of track between Leander and downtown Austin and often reaches speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. While Capital MetroRail is a fairly inexpensive way to travel, its rail line is wrought with accidents and fatalities. Most of these accidents involve both rail car/motor vehicle collisions, and many are directly related to poor or inadequate signage. In fact, many of the MetroRail crossings only have a crossbuck sign (an X-shaped symbol at railroad crossings) or a stop sign warning of the train crossing. All but one of the thirteen private crossings for the MetroRail have just the crossbuck sign with no flashing lights or crossing arms to warn of oncoming trains.