WASHINGTON D.C. (WKBN)- On Tuesday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced its plan to conduct a 60-day supplemental safety assessment of Norfolk Southern Railway following multiple safety incidents.

According to a press release, this in-depth assessment of Norfolk Southern is in addition to a number of actions taken by the U.S. Department of Transportation over the past several weeks to improve freight rail safety and accountability to protect workers and communities.

“After a series of derailments and the death of one of its workers, we are initiating this further
supplemental safety review of Norfolk Southern, while also calling on Norfolk Southern to act urgently to improve its focus on safety so the company can begin earning back the trust of the public and its employees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This comes as USDOT continues its own urgent actions to further improve freight rail safety and accountability.”

Reports said that FRA’s safety team will review the findings and recommendations of the 2022 Norfolk Southern system audit and revisit FRA’s recommendations and the scope of the railroad’s responses.

In addition, the FRA will assess the following operational elements:

  • Track, signal and rolling stock maintenance, inspection and repair practices;
  • Protection for employees working on rail infrastructure, locomotives and rail cars;
  • Communication between transportation departments and mechanical and engineering staff;
  • Operation control center procedures and dispatcher training;
  • Compliance with federal Hours of Service regulations;
  • Evaluating results of operational testing of employees’ execution and comprehension of all
  • applicable operating rules and federal regulations;
  • Training and qualification programs available to all railroad employees, including engineer and conductor training and certification;
  • Maintenance, inspection, and calibration policies and procedures for wayside defect detectors;
  • Procedures related to all wayside defect detector alerts;
  • Measures implemented to prevent employee fatigue, including the development and
  • Implementation of fatigue management programs required as part of FRA’s Risk Reduction Program (RRP) rule;
  • Current status of the hazard and risk analysis required by the RRP rule.

Information collected through the supplemental safety assessment will surpass the scope of existing FRA audits, providing a more expansive look at Norfolk Southern’s overall safety culture and operations. The information gathered will be used to target specific areas for FRA’s oversight and enforcement efforts and help identify risks beyond the reach of current Federal regulations. The FRA will use the information collected to push Norfolk Southern to develop measures to mitigate risks while identifying appropriate enforcement actions.

Reports said that the FRA will issue a public report on its findings.

Read more about USDOT’s recent actions to improve freight rail safety and accountability here.