Norfolk Southern CEO commented that he is holding parts of new rail safety statements

March 23, 2023: On Wednesday, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw told senators that his railroad firm supports parts of two bipartisan rail safety bills that came in the wake of a derailment in the previous month of a train which carries toxic materials in Ohio.

Testifying the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Shaw stated that the Railway Safety Act and the RAIL Act include “it is measuring with the potential for meaningful improvements, such as funding more training, better-advanced notifications, accelerating the phase-out of older tank cars, and much more.”

Shaw still needs to fully endorse the Railway Safety Act, including provisions that call for two-person crews on all railroad locomotives. “We’re unaware of any information that links crew size with safety,” Shaw said Wednesday.

“If the railroads had it their way and they reduced the conductor position to ground-based, which meant a person at a pickup truck driving to the site, that is putting in danger,” said Clyde Whitaker, an official at the SMART Transportation Division union, as answer. “It also puts the replies time and the assessment issuing the danger.”

The legislation introducing by Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, following the February 3 East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment, releasing toxic chemicals into the surrounding area.

In prepared remarks, Shaw stated that he settles in “principle” with portions of the legislation, like “establishing performance standards, maintenance standards, and alert thresholds for safety sensors.”

“We encoungers even stricter standards for tank car design,” Shaw said in prepared remarks.

“There are huge opportunities for advanced technology to enhance rail safety, and we encourage Congress considering additional research into on-board rail car detection technology.”

Brown, who spoke at the hearing with Vance, suggested the issues with Norfolk Southern were broader, which points to 579 violations during one recent fiscal year, with the firm paying an average fine of $3,300.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine stated that the hearing that he allows “with the changes in the law” that the bill proposes and the RAIL Act proposed in the previous week by Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Ohio. DeWine, a Republican, stated that lawmakers added his request including a provision requiring rail carriers to provide advance notification and information to emergency state response officials nearly the goods they are transporting.

Ohio sued Norfolk Southern the previous week, seeking damages, civil penalties and a “declaratory compliment that Norfolk Southern is accountable,” Attorney General Dave Yost stated.

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