The USA has one of the most extensive rail networks in the world, but with diminishing safety standards. The rail-roads are almost exclusively used for freight and are owned and maintained by a handful of private transport giants, which together spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political lobbying.
Rail workers and unions have complained about mass layoffs and a declining culture of safety. Much of this has been blamed on the widespread adoption of so-called Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which improves efficiency, but according to its detractors, is just a blunt cost-cutting measure that sacrifices safety for profits. Since 2017, railroads have slashed their workforce by 30%. workers warned that lax safety standards would eventually lead to a catastrophic derailment.
Overworked rail workers are given barely enough time to walk the length of the train when inspecting carriages, with trains getting longer and more haphazardly assembled, inspection points being closed, and a culture of fear instilled in the much-diminished workforce.