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What's the difference between a Class I, Class II, and Class III railroad company?

In the United States there are more than 560 freight railroads that operate nationwide. These railroads are classified into three groups; Class I, Class II and Class III railroads.

In this article we'll explore who governs these railroads, and what criteria makes them a Class I, Class II, or Class III rail company.


Questions answered in this article:

  • What is the difference in Class I, II, and III railroad companies?
  • Who is in charge of railroad safety?
  • Why should I hire an attorney if I've been injured in an accident involving a train?

Who is in charge of enforcing railroad regulations?

Originally the classes of railroads were determined and managed by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory agency that was created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. Up until 1995 when it was abolished, the ICC was used to regulate fair rates, get rid of unfair and discriminatory rate practices, and regulate other aspects of common carriers in the railroad industry. After the ICC was abolished 1995, its duties were assumed by the Surface Transportation Board which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Surface Transportation Board continues to manage the financial aspects of the railroad industry in the United States, such as rate fairness and disputes between freight carriers and their customers. Railroad safety is managed by the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Railroad Safety.

The Federal Railroad Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation as well. The Office of Railroad Safety regulates the railroad industry in safety aspects, operating practices, signal and train control, and railroad track maintenance. The Office of Railroad Safety also investigates railroad accidents and collects and maintains accident and injury data and uses this information to help improve policies related to railway safety.

Regardless of the class of railroad involved, there are safety regulations that must be followed and adhered to by the railroad carrier. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed as the result of an accident involving a railroad carrier, our Texas attorneys at Grossman Law Offices can help you litigate your claim. Our attorneys know how to handle claims with carriers in each railroad classification and we can help you.

Railroad classification explained:

The classification given to railroads is considered subjective in nature, but is based primarily on the operating revenue generated by the railroad line. As of 2012, a Class I Railroad is a large railroad carrier and defined by the Surface Transportation Board as a carrier that has annual operating revenues of at least 272 million dollars or more. The minimum amount of annual operating revenue required to be classified as a Class I Railroad is adjusted from time to time by the Surface Transportation Board due to inflation, regulatory and industry changes. A Class I Railroad can be a freight operator such as Union Pacific Railway or a passenger operator such as Amtrak. Currently there are seven Class I Railroads operating in the United States.

A Class II Railroad is considered a midsize railroad carrier and has annual operating revenues between 20 million and 250 million dollars each year. These railroads are often considered regional carriers in the industry and typically cover smaller areas of the country.

Finally, Class III railroad carriers are considered smaller railroads and usually have annual operating revenue of less than 20 million dollars. Many Class III railroads were once parts of larger railroads but are now operating on a much smaller scale as the result of mergers or break ups of the railroads they were once part of.

Railroad injuries and why you need an attorney.

According to the Office of Railroad Safety, there were 1992 accidents involving trains in 2011. Of that number, 722 accidents involved injuries and 205 accidents resulted in death. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a train or railroad carrier you do not have to handle this alone. Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices can help you litigate your claim. We will not be intimidated by the class or size of the carrier involved and we will work hard to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries or the recovery your family deserves through a wrongful death claim for your lost loved one. The railroad carriers have millions of dollars in operating revenue at stake and they will aggressively fight any claim brought against them. You should have someone on your side to level the playing field and help you prevail in your railroad accident claim. Give us a call: (855) 326-0000. If we can't win your case, you don't owe us a cent.


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