DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The National Transportation Safety Board has opened a special investigation into Norfolk Southern railway.
The board is looking into the company’s safety practices and culture after a series of recent train derailments, including in East Palestine and Springfield.
Officials who spoke with 2 NEWS say that quality checks could help to reduce these issues, and Norfolk Southern should be getting questioned on their preventative measures.
“At least maybe they are talking to the NTSB, but they have to be talking to somebody and proving that they are in compliance with that, that quality standard that they’re registered to,” George Urban, a retired quality engineer, says. “And you’re not hearing anything about that. Nobody’s bringing that out.”
The NTSB is investigating what caused both derailments, and Norfolk Southern is cooperating with those probes. However, Urban questions some of the steps being taken since the crashes. He says the solution of sensors to detect when derailing will take place is too late. Instead, there should be evaluations of the train cars beforehand.
“Should be looking at. If you thought you could get 40,000 miles out of it and you’re starting to have these problems, then you better be changing them at 30,000 miles or 35,000 miles or whatever it is,” Urban said. “I mean, that’s just a statistical number. And I mean, the data is there for them. I’m sure they have they have years and years and years of data, but nobody’s talking about their prevention as opposed to detection.”
Experts say derailments are actually common and are usually small in scale.
University of Dayton professor and Niehaus Chair in Business Analytics and Operations Management, Dr. Michael Gorman, says derailments happening on this large of a scale on multiple occasions is rare, and the solution to this issue is not to make hasty changes.
“Any policy that might be implemented should it ever be implemented, should be well thought out and not passed in a rush because there’s a public sentiment which doesn’t have any of the information on how to run a railroad or what really happened,” Dr. Gorman says. “And, you know, there’s also, of course, dramatic and sad, but making a rule might not fix that at all.”
Crews are still working to get roads clear and clean up the area, and the NTSB is investigating the cause of the derailments.