Strangely, Norfolk Southern, the railroad firm in charge of the catastrophe in Ohio on February 3rd, experienced record earnings in 2022. A massive evacuation resulted from the railroad error. One would wonder if the corporation put money before safety.
A recent interview with Clyde Whitaker, executive director of the Ohio State Legislative Director and president of the Sheet Metal, Air, and Rail Transportation Union, has been making the rounds on Twitter. The interview was conducted in December 2022, during the railroad strikes and discussions that Joe Biden served as a mediator for. It covered “Precision Scheduled Railroading,” during which Norfolk Southern reportedly decreased its personnel and allegedly mistreated employees.
A question about Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is posed to Whitaker, who is told that it entails “shorter staff, longer hours, longer trains, less safety, less maintenance, do I have all that right?”
“You got it all right. A lot of the derailments you’re seeing on national TV is one of a few things. It’s lacking maintenance on the track where they’ve cut the track gangs too short and they can’t get out to fix it or they’ve cut the Carmens, which is the union that works on the railcars,” Whitaker answered.
By bringing up an occurrence that happened a long time before the one that is presently occurring, Whitaker alludes to the Ohio tragedy.
“So we have one derailment here in Northeast Ohio where the wheel flange was very thin and it picked a switch and derailed the entire train. Luckily it was full of candle wax and not something highly volatile.”
In its financial results for the fourth quarter and the entire year of 2022, Norfolk Southern reported new highs for revenue from running railroads and income from railroad operations. Railway operating revenue increased by 13% in the fourth quarter to reach $3.2 billion, and income from railway operations increased by 5% to $1.2 billion.
The Norfolk Southern train that crashed in East Palestine, Ohio, last week was shown on security camera footage from businesses in Salem, Ohio, traveling for at least 20 miles on a defective axle.
At 8:12 p.m. on February 3, a southbound train passed by Butech Bliss, a maker of industrial equipment, in Salem, with one car a few dozen places behind the lead locomotive and the bottom of the vehicle lighting brilliantly.
One of the railway carriages can be seen on fire on CCTV footage from PittsburghPG many miles before the crash. It is unclear when the team became aware of the serious issue with the vehicle because they started to use the brakes after the E Palestine hot-box but may have missed the one close to the scene.
A defect in one of the railcar axles is probably what caused the event, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is in charge of the investigation into the crash. When the warning was issued is still a mystery.