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Florida: Solving the high rate of passenger rail incidents

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CPCS study suggests how to make passenger rail service safer for everybody.   

The challenge

In 2017 alone, the State of Florida reported 40 deaths due to collisions with high-speed passenger rail trains. That’s four times the national average in terms of death per miles travelled.

It’s unclear as to why rail transit in Florida is so prone to incidents. 

The state legislature hired CPCS to find answers.

What we did  

The mandate was straightforward: find the causes of the curiously high rate of passenger rail incidents in Florida and provide legislative and technical solutions.

How CPCS experts proceeded:

  • Conducted a comprehensive overview of the rail system in Florida
  • Reviewed and assessed existing passenger rail regulations
  • Analyzed rail and grade crossing safety
  • Made recommendations to the legislature based on findings from the previous steps

The process required extensive literature review and original research, in addition to stakeholder consultations and spatial visual mapping.

Concentration of highway-rail crossing incidents


“Fatalities are the product of two main factors,” says Rahil Saeedi, transportation expert at CPCS. “First, rail services in Florida operate in densely populated urban areas. Second, safety regulations need to be better.”

Some of the recommendations put forward to the legislature to reduce passenger rail incidents in Florida:

  • Fund an independent regulatory body to oversee the rail service’s safety
  • Set more stringent safety regulations
  • Implement smart technologies to reduce safety hazards at crossings
  • Enforce railroad crossing and trespass violations
  • Review and research ways to improve rail safety resources