National Transportation Safety Board Launches Special Investigation into Norfolk Southern

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it had launched an investigation into Norfolk Southern, the rail company that recently had two trains derail in Ohio. 

The NTSB stated that the investigation focuses on the company’s “safety practices and culture.” The inquiry comes a little over a month after a colossal train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, released toxic chemicals into the air. 

The announcement on Tuesday came with the news that a Norfolk Southern conductor had been killed in a collision with a dump truck in Ohio. 

“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,” said the NTSB in a press release.

“The continued safe operations of Norfolk Southern are vital to the United States. The NTSB is concerned that several organizational factors, including safety culture, may be involved in the accidents. The NTSB will conduct an in-depth investigation into the safety practices and culture of the company. At the same time, the company should not wait to improve safety, and the NTSB urges it to do so immediately,” added the NTSB. 

Norfolk Southern has had five significant accidents in only four months

The board listed five significant accidents in only four months as justifications for the special investigation. The accidents included one injury and two deaths in two separate accidents in December, the February East Palestine derailment, an additional derailment on March 3, and the conductor’s death in the Tuesday crash. A special team will investigate each incident. 

According to a news release from the railroad company, the conductor killed was identified as Louis Shuster, who died at the Cleveland-Cliffs Cleveland Works. According to Norfolk Southern, it is believed that Shuster was hit by a dump truck as the train was moving through a facility crossing. 

“The cause of the accident is not yet known, and we will, of course, cooperate fully with the National Transportation Safety Board,” said CEO and Norfolk Southern president Alan H. Shaw in a statement. 

“In some ways, the cause does not matter. I called together every member of our management team this afternoon to emphasize the urgency of finding new solutions. Tomorrow we will hold safety stand-down briefings reaching every employee across our network,” the statement continued.

“FRA, NTSB, and OSHA are investigating after a collision this morning killed a Norfolk Southern conductor in Cleveland. Our thoughts are with the family facing this preventable tragedy. Now more than ever, it is time for stronger freight railroad accountability and safety,” tweeted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday. 

The White House and Congress have increasingly called for accountability from Norfolk Southern since the East Palestine derailment. 

Shaw believes the company intends 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.”