NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A fiery train derailment in Ohio is making global headlines and prompting the question: With 2,112 miles of railroads in Tennessee, should residents be concerned?

“There’s no glaring safety error or problem in the industry,” said Dr. Allan Zarembski, an expert in railroad safety and derailment analysis at the University of Delaware. “The data right now supports that railroads are safe.”

Nationwide, railroad accidents have sat below 10,000 per year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration:

  • 2018:   9,677
  • 2019:   9,747
  • 2020:   7,784
  • 2021: 8,088

The majority of rail traffic in Tennessee is for intermodal shipments, according to the Association of American Railroads:

  • Intermodal:  38%
  • Other:  23%
  • Chemicals:  14%
  • Glass and Stone:  11%
  • Food:  7%
  • Paper:  6%

Zarembski said the rail system we have works well, and there is no radical change to be made; but he expects to see fine-tuning of regulations. He warned, however, it comes with consequences.

“There are ramifications,” said Zarbembski. “It’s just not something that’s just something you can do easily.”

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He said some of the consequences from further safety regulations could include false alarms and stopping trains on railways that are already congested.

He says new technology is already working its way into the system, for example, improved bearings, and that process may be sped up in light of the recent events.