No Humans = Deadlier Trains

Chico State police officers and Butte County Sheriff's officers remove the body of an unidentified woman struck and killed by a train. (Image and caption source: David McVicker / The Orion)

A nine-year-old boy in Buffalo, NY, survived but lost his right leg. Another woman was found dead but with one leg chopped off in the same spot. In Houston a man was found dead and without a leg. Since 2015, three railroad inspectors have been killed. And there are more. All are victims of remote-controlled trains, and as you can see, even the inspectors who are supposed to keep us safe aren’t safe!

Not only can humans, in many cases young children, be easily killed and maimed by remote controlled trains that run at street level (which almost all freight trains in the U.S. do). They can also lead to much wider tragedies, like the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment last year. 

Major rail freight companies like CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and BNSF are all in for remote controlled freight trains. They are pushing this new technology despite the obvious dangers of running a 160 car, 1.5 miles long, 3,000  or more ton train without human engineers of safety monitors on board. That’s because it’s a way for them to cut labor costs and therefore run their trains more efficiently and therefore more profitably. Which is always their ultimate goal.

Working on and around railroads has never been a safe thing. But at least having a human or two watching and checking for someone in harms way was something.

For human beings, remote controlled trains are a step in the wrong direction. Unfortunately for us, the big freight rail companies have another concern in mind.