Dear Reader,

Our metro rail system provides a vital service for our community.  These trains allow us to navigate with relative ease and reduce our carbon footprint.  Metro rails lessen street congestion and save riders time and money.  Rail users need not worry about the cost of maintaining, insuring, and storing a vehicle; and are never concerned about navigating a car through traffic or finding a parking space.  They get to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

For all these reasons and more, we should be grateful we have access to this much needed transportation service.  Still, there are some real-world risks and obvious problems with journeying on the rails which riders should know about.   I chose the topic for today’s blog, after reading an Article on about the most a recent Amtrack train car derailment at the tunnel entrance of Union Station.

Luckily no passengers were hurt, but an Amtrak employee was taken from the to a local hospital for observation.  Amtrak had to suspend all service between D.C. and Richmond Virginia causing massive delays for commuters.  Still, given that no one except the poor Amtrack employee was seriously injured, this could have been much worse.

This article documents a single and relatively minor railroad failure. Yes, this failure cost the company quite a bit to fix and yes, a lot of commuters were inconvenienced on their way to work, but overall, everyone walked away unharmed.  Still, the article sheds light on a larger concern about the safety of using the metro lines. While it’s true the metro rail system provides tons of benefits for the community, there is an element of rider-be-ware when you choose to travel the rail lines.

For one, if you ride the Metro, you know how overcrowded trains can be especially during heavy commute times.  It’s hard to maintain your personal space and this can leave you vulnerable to pick pockets, harassment or even assault.   The transit authorities do their best to deter and prevent these crimes, but it’s impossible for them to be everywhere at once.

Then there’s the problems with the trains and rails themselves. As demonstrated by this recent derailment, our rail system is not always a safe and reliable mode of transportation.   Maintaining an extensive rail network is a daunting task for even the most prepared transit system and it’s all too common for a breakdown to occur.

Sometimes these system breakdowns can cause more than just frustration for commuters.  Poorly maintained train cars and rail tracks can result in terrible and sometimes fatal injuries. Last year alone the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) reported eight major safety events, three of which included electrical fires and three others which involved derailments.   All you need do is watch the news for a few weeks and you’ll likely hear of someone injured or killed on the metro lines.

The takeaway, our rail system provides a vital service to our community and for the most part, riders navigate their daily commutes with ease.  But this mode of transportation is not always safe. There are risks involved in using these city services.  Remaining vigilant and aware of your surroundings and the people around you will help, but there’s really nothing you can do to safeguard yourself from the risk of injury due to a train malfunction.

If you or someone you love is ever injured while riding on the metro rails, I urge you to call my office.  With over forty years’ experience handling personal injury claims, we are ready to help you in every way we can.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.  Have you ever had a bad experience while riding the metro line?  Or do you have specific safety tips you’d like to share with other readers that help keep you and your belongings safe?

Please respond and I’ll share your story in an upcoming post.

Until next time, please be safe, and NEVER text while driving!

Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow

703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515

See link below for the original article.

Amtrak train cars derail at Union Station in DC, causing major disruptions to service

By Allison Hageman and Gina Cook

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