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If a railway has "the same number of carloads the same distance with fifteen or twenty accidents" they should lose a whole lot of money (including massive fines) and end up out of business.

One would like that, but it hardly ever happens.

>> 1. In most cases, there's only one other railroad that operates parallel routes, so the loss of competition would create a monopoly.

>> 2. There are also very strong political forces aiming to sustain rail service to communities and shippers that would lose it if a railroad were to fail.

So the government might send out inspectors if a railroad has enough mishaps in a short enough time span, but those inspectors go away as soon as the railroad brings the offending track and/or rolling stock up to standard. Once the inspectors go away, the neglect of maintenance resumes and the cycle repeats.

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