A satellite navigation system now in its design phase, SafeRail, from the European Space Agency, will allow train operators to track their location in real time and send a signal that triggers a stoplight or lowers a traffic gate at a train crossing. Existing systems “have very complex risk models” but tend to discount human error, says project manager Rob Postema. The data can even be linked to in-car GPS units to alert drivers. 

4 Ways to Make Our Trains Safer

“Statistically, every 94 minutes something or someone is getting hit by a train in the United States,” says David Rangel, deputy director of Modoc Railroad, a training school for future train engineers. Now, most of those incidents don’t involve people—Rangel’s statistic also includes the occasional abandoned shopping cart, wayward livestock, and other objects that somehow find their way onto the tracks. But, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), 784 people were killed in train-related accidents in 2013, the highest total in the last four years.

How Trains Can Be Silent Killers


Earlier this month, a 100-year-old water main in Philadelphia burst, spewing 13 million gallons of water onto a parking lot, inundating several nearby stores, and causing an estimated $3 billion in damages. It’s far from the only example of major American cities relying on aging infrastructure—we found some of the oldest still in operation.

The Oldest Working Infrastructure in America