Prior to the massive 50-railcar Norfolk Southern train derailment out in East Palestine, Ohio, back on the 3rd of February, the train had been dealing with a mechanical failure on the route, as reported by the train’s employees.
the massive 151-car, 19,000-ton train, which first kicked off its trip from Madison, Illinois, reportedly had issues and broke down on the evening of February 1st, according to the train’s employees. This breakdown took place just two days prior to the disastrous crash in East Palestine.
“We shouldn’t be running trains that are 150 car lengths long,” stated an employee to CBS News. “There should be some limitations to the weight and the length of the trains. In this case, had the train not been 18,000 tons, it’s very likely the effects of the derailment would have been mitigated.”
However, a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern explained to CBS News that “the weight distribution of this train was uniform throughout” with a mid-train locomotive “which helps manage the dynamic forces of the train” and helps mitigate any mechanical issues.
“Assigning a ‘reputation’ to a train that fluctuates by thousands of tons on a regular basis is inaccurate,” explained the spokesperson, who went on to say that a “longer and heavier train” used to go down the very same route as this derailed train.
“There’s a good chance the car that derailed had not been properly inspected for some time,” expressed Jared Cassity, the SMART Transportation Division Alt. National Legislative Director whose union is responsible for representing many railway workers. “You combine that with the added length and tonnage, plus the fact that it had all this hazardous material, and this was predictable. If nothing changes, it will happen again.”
“Two years ago SMART President Jeremy Ferguson warned your publication and anyone that would listen that something like this was going to happen,” explained a Norfolk Southern employee to the outlet Motherboard. “They’re going to keep happening if regulators continue to allow this business model to ravage our nation’s freight rail system in the pursuit of profit. My fear is that these corporations have so much money and political influence that nothing is going to change.”
A different employee went on to add in the statement to Motherboard that this derailed train had been given the nickname “32 Nasty.”
“When I was FRA administrator, I was not happy with the lengths of the trains, and they were 80 or 90 cars long,” stated former administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Sarah Feinberg. “This train was 50% longer.”