NTSB launches investigation into Norfolk Southern, urges them to improve safety ‘immediately’

DAYTON — The National Transportation Safety Board has announced that they have launched a special investigation into Norfolk Southern after multiple recent accidents.

Since December 2021, NTSB said they have launched investigations into five “significant” accidents involving Norfolk Southern — including when nearly 30 cars derailed in Springfield over the weekend.

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“Given the number and significance of recent Norfolk Southern accidents, the NTSB also urges the company to take immediate action today to review and assess its safety practices, with the input of employees and others, and implement necessary changes to improve safety,” the agency said in a media release.

These accidents include according to NTSB:

  • Dec. 8, 2021 in Reed, Pennsylvania: an employee for National Salvage and Service Corporation assigned to work with a Norfolk Southern work team replacing track was killed when the operator of a spike machine reversed direction and struck the employee
  • Dec. 13, 2022 in Bessemer, Alabama: a Norfolk Southern trainee conductor was killed, and another conductor was hurt, when the lead locomotive of a Norfolk Southern freight train struck a steel angle iron protruding from a gondola car on another Norfolk Southern freight train that was stopped on an adjacent track
  • Feb. 3, 2022 in East Palestine, Ohio: a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed. The derailment resulted in a significant fire and hazardous materials release.

>> RELATED: East Palestine derailment: Timeline of key events in toxic train disaster

  • March 4, 2022 in Springfield, Ohio: a 2.55-mile-long Norfolk Southern freight train derailed

>> RELATED: Springfield train derailment: Clark Co. officials ‘No hazardous materials leaked;’ NTSB on scene

  • March 7, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio: a Norfolk Southern employee was killed during a movement

>> RELATED: Dump truck crashes into Norfolk Southern train, killing conductor in Cleveland

The investigation will also review an Oct. 28 derailment in Sandusky, Ohio.

The agency will be looking at several organizational factors and safety cultures that may have contributed to these accidents.

“We will look at their management practices, their policies. We’ll also look at safety culture--that’s an important part of this--to make sure there is a robust, comprehensive, strong safety culture in the railroad,” Jennifer Homendy, NTSB Chairwoman previously told CNN.

The NTSB isn’t the only one who wants answers. News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis spoke with Springfield residents about their reaction to the investigation.

“If it’s such a frequent occurrence, I feel like they should look into it for sure,” Hunter Combs said.

Dallas Fitch agreed.

“I definitely think if all these derailments are linked to that company they should definitely be looked into,” Fitch said.

News Center 7 reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment. They replied in part:

“Moving forward, we are going to rebuild our safety culture from the ground up. We are going to invest more in safety. This is not who we are, it is not acceptable, and it will not continue.”

The full statement can be read here.

THE NTSB recommended Norfolk Southern not wait to make safety changes.

News Center 7 will follow this developing story and update as more information becomes available.

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