A month full of derailments and accidents for Class I railroads in the US

A month full of derailments and accidents for Class I railroads in the US
© Benjamin Wagner / unsplash

Over the past month, railroad safety has become a significant concern in the United States. In March, none of the Class I railroads was spared from the list of companies experiencing derailments and accidents, and even Amtrak was added to the undesired list.

March 2023 was particularly busy due to train derailments and accidents in various parts of the US. These incidents have resulted in spills, fires, and damage to the environment, infrastructure, and even human life.

The long list of Class I railroad incidents

In Ohio, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Springfield, causing significant damage to tracks and nearby buildings. Similarly, another Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama, with the positioning of the dead in tow locomotives breaking NS rules, according to the NTSB's preliminary report. In response, Ohio has sued Norfolk Southern over a separate incident in East Palestine, where yet another derailment occurred. The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over the same incident.

Elsewhere in the country, there have been several other train derailments. In Kentucky, CSX experienced a derailment, BNSF had a fuel spill in Washington state and another BNSF train carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire in Minnesota. In the Bay Area, Amtrak had a train derailment, and in the California desert, Union Pacific's ore train derailed.

In North Dakota, a Canadian Pacific train carrying liquid asphalt derailed, spilling its contents. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, 15 cars of ore derailed on a CN train, causing a significant cleanup effort.

Even though train travel is typically viewed as a safe and efficient mode of transportation, these incidents in the United States highlight the need for increased safety measures in the rail industry.

Raised concerns among lawmakers

The series of incidents have raised concerns among lawmakers and the public about the rail industry’s safety. As more trains carry hazardous materials, the risks associated with these derailments increase significantly. Therefore, there is a strong push for rail companies to prioritize safety and to work to prevent such accidents and derailments.

Three U.S. senators have introduced a new rail safety bill to address these concerns, and Minnesota legislators are considering new rail safety legislation. The bills aim to strengthen existing regulations and improve rail transportation safety. This includes increasing the number of inspections of railroad tracks and cars and implementing stricter safety protocols and reporting requirements for rail companies.

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