State And Regional

Safety plan released following NTSB initial investigation following East Palestine derailment

ATLANTA — A new six-point safety plan was announced Monday by Norfolk Southern Corporation following the train derailment investigation in East Palestine.

The safety plan is based on the initial findings of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after the derailment in East Palestine that will be implemented immediately, according to Norfolk Southern.

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“Reading the NTSB report makes it clear that meaningful safety improvements require a comprehensive industry effort that brings together railcar and tank car manufacturers, railcar owners and lessors, and the railroad companies. We are eager to help drive that effort and we are not waiting to take action,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said.

Northfolk Southern release the following safety measures that are a part of this six-point safety plan:

  • Enhanced hot bearing detector network
  • Pilot next-generation hot bearing detectors
  • Work with industry on practices for hot bearing detectors
  • Deploy more acoustic bearing detectors
  • Accelerate Digital Train Inspection program
  • Support a strong safety culture

As a part of this plan, Norfolk Southern will be reviewing the distance between hot-bearing detectors. These detectors are sensors used to detect problems with bearings overheating.

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“The company anticipates adding approximately 200 hot bearing detectors to its network, with the first installed on the western approach to East Palestine,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson said.

The railroad company has planned to work with manufacturers to speed up the testing and deployment of “multi-scan” detectors. These detectors may allow crew members to catch overheated bearings more successfully.

Norfolk Southern has plans to work with others in the railroad industry to review the “standard and practices” pertaining to the use of these detectors, including alarm temperature triggers thresholds, peer analyses of patterns of potential safety issues, and review high-temperature alarm response best practices.

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The railroad company will also join the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) as apart of its new safety plan.

The new safety measures are in response to the preliminary report from the NTSB. It was found that car number 23 had an overheated axle.

“Train 32N was operating with a dynamic brake application as the train passed a wayside defect detector on the east side of Palestine, Ohio, at milepost (MP) 49.81. 4 The wayside defect detector, or hot bearing detector (HBD), transmitted a critical audible alarm message instructing the crew to slow and stop the train to inspect a hot axle. The train engineer increased the dynamic brake application to further slow and stop the train. During this deceleration, an automatic emergency brake application initiated, and train 32N came to a stop,” the NTSB preliminary report stated.

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The NTSB report said the rail crew notified the Cleveland East dispatcher of a possible derailment. Additionally, it was found the crew followed and operated following Norfolk Southern rules, and the train was operating below the speed limit. All hot bearing detectors were also found to be working as designed. To read the primary report in full, visit the NTSB’s website.

The NTSB is still investigating the derailment, and it is unknown when the final investigation will be completed or when the final report will be released.

To read the Northfolk Southern safety plan in full detail, visit their website.

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