Following a rail disaster on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border last month and several other mishaps involving Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), including the death of a train conductor Tuesday, federal authorities have launched a wide-ranging inquiry into one of the country’s largest railroads.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced on Tuesday that it will launch an investigation into the company’s safety culture, the first of its kind in the rail industry since 2014. Since December 2021, the NTSB has dispatched investigation teams to look into five major incidents involving Norfolk Southern.
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw promised a series of companywide safety briefings on Wednesday, one day before he is expected to testify before Congress at a hearing on the East Palestine incident.
“Moving forward, we are going to rebuild our safety culture from the ground up,” he said in a statement. “We are going to invest more in safety. This is not who we are, it is not acceptable, and it will not continue.”
In response to the Ohio derailment, the railroad announced steps on Monday to strengthen the use of detectors installed along train lines to identify overheating bearings and other problems.
According to NTSB investigators, the crew of the train that derailed Feb. 3 outside East Palestine, Ohio, received a warning from such a detector but was unable to stop the train before more than three dozen cars came off the tracks and caught fire.
When firefighters purposely burnt harmful chemicals in some of the wrecked cars to prevent an uncontrolled explosion, half of the town’s 5,000 residents were forced to evacuate for days, leaving them with long-term health risks. According to government officials, examinations have revealed no harmful levels of pollutants in the area’s air or water.
According to Federal Railroad Administration figures, accidents involving Norfolk Southern have decreased since 2019, however the rate of accidents has increased over the last decade. Last year’s 119 derailments involving Norfolk Southern were the fewest in a decade. Last year, there were almost 1,000 derailments in the industry.
Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the East Palestine accident, the rail firm has been under increasing criticism.
In February, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg directed the nation’s freight railways to take urgent action to improve safety while regulators focused on improving safety requirements. Buttigieg stated that the department will hold the railroad accountable for any safety violations that contributed to the disaster on February 3.
Following the crash, President Joe Biden stated on Twitter that the train industry’s history of fighting safety rules must end, and that Congress should support the effort to improve safety.
When former US President Donald Trump was in office, he made it a point to repeal, withdraw, or delay over a dozen transportation safety rules. He believed that these regulations unnecessarily restrained economic growth.
An Associated Press News analysis from 2018 found that regulations Trump sidelined would have, “among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions.”
Ohio train derailment wasn’t the last
While most incidents do not pose severe issues, three of the five accidents involving Norfolk Southern since the end of 2021 resulted in the deaths of three workers, according to the NTSB.
No one was injured when a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed near Springfield, Ohio, on Saturday.
A train and a dump truck collided at a steel mill in Cleveland on Tuesday, killing the train conductor who was standing on the exterior of a vehicle, according to investigators. The company stated that the reason of the mishap was unknown at the time.
The fatality, according to Eddie Hall, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Union, which represents the worker killed, is a reminder of the need for safety changes.
“All railroad accidents are avoidable,” Hall said. “This collision underscores the need for significant improvements in rail safety for both workers and the public.”
Norfolk Southern Corporation last traded at $215.18 on the NYSE, down 3.26% following the news.
Information for this briefing was found via CP24 and the sources mentioned`. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.