Until last September, rail systems — much like their airline counterparts — were cruising with far fewer accidents than in previous years and decades. The number of train accidents per mile dropped nearly 30 percent from 1990 to 2008, according to Federal Railroad Administration records.
That changed in a hurry.
In September 2008, a commuter rail train crashed with a freight rail in Los Angeles and 25 people died. The crash was blamed on an engineer on the commuter rail texting on a cell phone.
Last month about 50 people were injured in Boston when a trolley rear-ended another trolley. The conductor admitted to texting when the crash took place.
On Monday, one subway train rear-ended another in Washington during rush hour above ground. At least six people were killed, the mayor said, including the operator of the trailing train. It's too early to know the cause of this accident, but this third collision has got a top safety expert concerned.