Norfolk Southern Introduces Six-Point Plan to Improve Safety After Springfield Derailment
On Saturday, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Springfield, Ohio, causing 28 cars to leave the tracks, though thankfully no injuries were reported. This derailment comes a month after a similar incident in East Palestine, Ohio, which contaminated the surrounding area with toxic chemicals. In response, Norfolk Southern has introduced a six-point plan to improve safety in its operations.
The 28 cars of the Norfolk Southern train derailed directly in front of waiting vehicles at a railroad crossing in Springfield. Four of the derailed cars were empty non-hazardous material tank cars. Additionally, two tankers contained residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid, while the other two tankers contained residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution, the Clark County Emergency Management Agency said in a news release. These are non-hazardous materials commonly shipped via rail.
As part of their six-point plan, Norfolk Southern is deploying 13 additional acoustic bearing detectors, which analyze the sound signature of vibration inside the axle and can identify potential problems that a visual inspection could not. NS is also working with manufacturers to pilot next-generation hot bearing detectors, which are able to “scan a greater cross-section of a railcar’s bearings and wheels”. In addition, the company is collaborating with Georgia Tech to advance safety inspection technology using “machine vision and algorithms powered by artificial intelligence to identify defects and needed repairs.” Finally, Norfolk Southern has agreed to join the Federal Railroad Administration's Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) to support a strong safety culture.
Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary, tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash and had contacted Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to provide assistance. Clark County Emergency Management Agency had asked residents within 1,000 feet of the derailment to shelter in place Saturday night “out of an abundance of caution.”
Norfolk Southern is committed to improving safety in its operations and is taking action to expand its hot bearing detector network and enhance its digital train inspection program. The company is also partnering with industry to review standards and practices for hot bearing detectors and will join the Federal Railroad Administration's Confidential Close Call Reporting system to support a strong safety culture.
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