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Millions of Americans depend on trains and subways to get them where they need to go safely and efficiently. Railroads are used mainly for long-distance travel. Most major American cities have some sort of subways or metro system that commuters rely on as an integral part of public transportation. Sometimes, these modes of transportation can be risky. Train doors can close unexpectedly, feet can get caught, there can be catastrophic crashes and derailments, and employees can be negligent. All of these factors makes the risk of accidents or injury real. If you have been hurt on a train or subway, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the train or subway operator and collect compensation for your pain and suffering. To get started, fill out this short form.
Rail transport is one of the most energy efficient means of mechanized land transport. The rails provide very smooth and hard surfaces on which the wheels of the train may roll with a minimum of friction. As an example, a typical rail car can hold up to 125 tons of freight with this and the weight of the car on two four-wheel bogies. Fully loaded, the contact between each wheel and the rail is the space of about one U.S. ten-cent piece. This is more comfortable than most other forms of land transport and saves energy. Trains also have a small frontal area in relation to the load they are carrying, which cuts down on air resistance and thus energy usage. In all, under the right circumstances, a train needs 50-70% less energy to transport a given tonnage of freight (or given number of passengers), than does road transport. Furthermore, the rails and sleepers distribute the weight of the train evenly, allowing significantly greater loads per axle/wheel than in road transport.
Trains can travel at very high speed, are heavy, are unable to deviate from the track and require a great distance to stop. There are many opportunities for an accident to occur: jumping the track (derailment), head-on collision with another train coming the opposite way and collision with an automobile at a level crossing are all possibilities.. Level crossing collisions are relatively common in the United States where there are several thousand each year killing about 500 people.
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated, or metro system is a railway system, usually in an urban area, that usually has high capacity and frequency, with large trains and total or near total grade separation from other traffic.
There is no single term in English that all speakers would use for all rapid transit or metro systems. This fact reflects variations not only in national and regional usage, but in what characteristics are considered essential. One definition of a metro system is as follows: an urban, electric mass transit railway system totally independent from other traffic with high service frequency. But those who prefer the American term "subway" or the British "underground" would additionally specify that the tracks and stations must be located below street level so that pedestrians and road users see the street exactly as it would be without the subway; or at least that this must be true for the most important, central parts of the system. Conversely, those who prefer the American "rapid transit" or the newer term "metro" tend to view this as a less important characteristic and are pleased to include systems that are entirely elevated or at ground level (at grade) as long as the other criteria are met. A rapid transit system that is generally above street level may be called an "elevated" system (often shortened to el or, in Chicago, 'L'). In some cities the word "subway" applies to the entire system, in others only to those parts that actually are underground; and analogously for "el".
In larger metropolitan areas the metro system may extend only to the limits of the central city, or to its inner ring of suburbs, with trains making relatively frequent station stops. The outer suburbs may then be reached by a separate commuter, suburban, or regional rail network, where more widely spaced stations allow a higher speed. These trains are often more expensive and less frequent, sometimes operating only in rush hours, and sometimes for political reasons they are operated by a separate authority that tends not to cooperate with the city's transit authority.
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