Local leaders discuss railroad safety following Ohio train derailments

Experts are calling for regulation on defect detectors to avoid train derailments like the recent ones in Sandusky, Springfield and East Palestine.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 1:01 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:03 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Local leaders gathered at the Toledo Amtrak Station on Monday to discuss railroad safety and proposed improvements in Ohio following a series of train derailments in the state in recent months.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who hosted Monday’s press conference, said officials need to find a solution to keep Ohio communities safe. The calls for reform follow Saturday’s train derailment in Springfield, last month’s train derailment in East Palestine and last year’s train derailment in Sandusky.

“Both the Sandusky train and the East Palestine train came through this city,” Congresswoman Kaptur said.

Cleanup is still ongoing in Sandusky following the 20-car derailment there in October, the city’s mayor said. The derailment dumped paraffin wax that was contained to one area. The mayor said that situation was drastically different from the East Palestine derailment that involved toxic chemicals.

“I cannot believe that in this day and age with technology that we have, the communication that we all benefit from, that there cannot be a better system in place to prevent things like this,” said Dick Brady, Mayor and President of the Sandusky City Commission.

Officials said 55 trains pass through Sandusky a day.

“Norfolk Southern and CSX are two companies that I have tried to contact for well over a year and a half as we were considering the infrastructure bill in the Congress of the United States. I could not get them to return a phone call,” Congresswoman Kaptur said.

Kaptur held a meeting with experts Monday to discuss rail safety proposals. Director of Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation, Clyde Whitaker, said several things need to change.

“We need to maintain two person crew. That’s essential for the safety operation of the train,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said rail companies want to go down to single-person crews and they are dependent on technology that doesn’t always work properly.

“Additionally, there needs to be regulation in laws on defect detectors to avoid issues such as East Palestine, other derailments, such as Sandusky. In addition to that with defect detectors, there also need to be accountability,” Whitaker said.

There were no representatives from the railroad at that meeting on Monday. Congresswoman Kaptur said she’s tried to get in touch with them for over a year and they will not call her back.

You can watch the press conference in the video below.

Rail leaders and politicians say Ohio corridor improvements are needed.
13abc's Josh Croup explains the recent Clark County train derailment and offers insight into how many train derailments happen every day.

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