Railroad in Ohio disaster offers safety concessions before CEO’s Hill appearance

The plan provides Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw one thing to current to senators when he seems before the Senate EPW Committee Thursday — nevertheless it’s not more likely to fulfill Democrats on the panel.

A lot of the six-point plan to be introduced Monday entails bettering the gear Norfolk Southern makes use of alongside tracks to assist sense when a practice’s wheels are overheating, together with boosting the variety of detectors and reviewing how far aside they’re spaced. The railroad additionally says it needs to hunt trade consensus on requirements for this gear, which now are decided by particular person firms. And it says it needs to speed up analysis on a brand new automated inspection know-how.

In an announcement accompanying the plan, Shaw stated the preliminary findings of the Nationwide Transportation Safety Board, an impartial company probing the disaster, made it clear that “a complete trade effort” was wanted to enhance safety and that Norfolk Southern is “not ready to take motion.”


However that record of actions falls far in need of the adjustments the Biden administration is searching for — akin to upgrading to a quicker braking system, offering extra notification to communities about hazardous supplies touring via their areas and paying staff sick go away.

The Division of Transportation has stated it additionally doesn’t simply need railroads to improve their automated observe inspection gear. It additionally needs them to cease searching for to chop again on human inspections.

The Biden administration has requested Congress to make a sequence of further adjustments as nicely, together with rising the present $225,000 cap on fines for safety violations.

Elevating the cap is among the provisions included in a bill introduced last week by a bipartisan group of senators, together with the delegations from Ohio and Pennsylvania the place the impacts of the derailment had been felt. That invoice would additionally topic extra trains that carry hazardous supplies to safety rules designed to guard communities, and would require not less than two crew members on board every practice — adjustments the railroads have fought arduous to forestall.

The invoice additionally would mandate that railroads have detectors for overheating wheels each 10 miles of observe — not each 15, as included in Norfolk Southern’s motion plan.

Norfolk Southern hasn’t particularly mentioned the invoice or DOT’s requests past saying that the “rail trade must study as a lot as we will from East Palestine,” as the corporate stated in an announcement to POLITICO.

“Norfolk Southern has dedicated to working with trade to develop practices and applied sciences that would assist stop an incident like this in the longer term,” the assertion learn. “This incident requires a broad trade response, and we will even work with the homeowners of the rail vehicles on the integrity and safety of the gear we use.”

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