Norfolk Southern Announces Safety Measures


Norfolk Southern train | Image by Jonathan Weiss

Following the derailment of one of its trains in East Palestine, Ohio, last month, Norfolk Southern said it plans to add 200 hot-bearing detectors to its network.

The company will examine every location on its core network where sensors are more than 15 miles apart, with the first one to be installed on the western approach to East Palestine, Norfolk Southern said in a press release on Monday.

The railroad operator said it averages 13.9 miles between hot bearing detectors on its core network. 

The decision was one of a number of safety initiatives, many revolving around hot bearing detectors, which were announced on Monday.  

Norfolk Southern says it intends to work with the industry on a comprehensive review of the use of hot bearing detectors and analyze data for patterns that could offer earlier warnings of potential safety issues.

The decision was made following another Norfolk Southern train derailment on Saturday near Springfield, Ohio, as reported by NPR.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw is scheduled to testify before the Senate this week, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). 

Last week, federal officials said that an overheated wheel bearing on a railcar was likely the cause of the February 3 derailment in East Palestine, according to Axios.

The train passed through temperature sensors showing the railcar was getting warmer. The detector, which showed that the bearing had reached critical temperatures, was around 20 miles from the prior one, the WSJ reported. 

The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report found that existing temperature sensors were operating correctly and the train was traveling under the speed limit, according to the WSJ.

Currently, no federal regulation deems how closely railroads should place temperature sensors along their tracks, and railroads themselves set the temperature thresholds that determine when crews should stop trains and inspect the equipment, according to the WSJ. 

A bipartisan group of senators is calling for new safety rules, which include placing sensors no more than 10 miles apart, the outlet reported. 

“Reading the NTSB report makes it clear that meaningful safety improvements require a comprehensive industry effort,” Shaw said Monday, according to the press release. “We are eager to help drive that effort and we are not waiting to take action.”

The Dallas Express contacted Norfolk Southern regarding the class-action lawsuit it is facing following its East Palestine, Ohio, derailment.

Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Katelyn Byrd responded, “We are unable to comment on active litigation.

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