Norfolk Southern reported rise in railway accident rates ahead of Ohio train derailment
Rail operator Norfolk Southern executives reported a rise in accident rates in recent years just weeks before a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio forced the company to vent and burn carcinogenic chemicals, according to the New York Times.
The big picture: The rate of accidents on the company's railway increased in each of the last four years, according to a Norfolk Southern earnings call presentation on Jan. 23.
- CEO Alan Shaw told shareholders that Norfolk Southern's service was “at the best it’s been in more than two years," the Times reports.
- Just days later, a 150-car freight train, which was pulling at least five tanker cars containing vinyl chloride, a colorless but hazardous and carcinogenic gas, derailed in Ohio.
- Another Norfolk Southern train derailed near Detroit, Michigan on Thursday.
Why it matters: The crash forced hundreds of East Palestine residents to evacuate before the release and burn-off of the vinyl chloride. They were allowed to return two days later.
- But some residents who returned have complained of smells, headaches, nausea and other ailments, according to the Washington Post.
Between the lines: Executives at Norfolk Southern and other railroads had been telling investors that they can bolster their profit margins by keeping a lid on costs, the Times writes.
- At the same time, railway companies have lobbied against new rules aimed at making trains safer, per the Times.