The Community Post

Federal regulators promise safety review at railroads


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Railroad Administra­tion recently completed a review of Norfolk Southern’s safety culture in the wake of the February’s fiery derailment in Ohio, and officials plan to follow up with similar investigat­ions of all the major freight railroads over the next year.

A report will be released soon on what investigat­ors found at Norfolk Southern after the Feb. 3 derailment — which prompted the evacuation of half of East Palestine, Ohio — and several other recent derailment­s. That crash near the Ohio-Pennsylvan­ia border sparked intense interest in railroad safety nationwide and prompted proposed reforms in Congress.

The head of the FRA, Administra­tor Amit Bose, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently that in addition to individual reports on Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the agency will also produce an industrywi­de report on common issues and trends.

Railroad unions have been raising concerns that operating changes the railroads have made over the past six years have made the trains that haul hazardous materials and goods of all kinds across the country more dangerous.

The unions say the deep staff cuts railroads have made, combined with their increasing reliance on longer trains, have increased the chance of safety problems. They say inspection­s are being rushed, preventati­ve maintenanc­e may be neglected and overworked employees are more likely to be fatigued.

The railroads have defended their practices and said they haven’t sacrificed safety to become more efficient. The industry also emphasizes that it remains the safest way to transport hazardous materials over land. Norfolk Southern and all the major railroads have announced a number of steps they are taking to improve safety though regulators, and lawmakers have called for them to do more.

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