Third accident this month for Norfolk Southern in Ohio


The situation for US railroad company Norfolk Southern keeps getting from bad to worse when it comes to Ohio. For the third time in about a month, one of the company’s trains has been involved in an accident in the Buckeye State. This time, sadly, the accident was fatal for one of the company’s employees.

The accident occurred on Tuesday 7 March in the early morning in Cleveland’s Industrial Valley, in northeastern Ohio. According to first reports, the freight train collided with a dump truck sitting on the rail tracks near the facilities of Cleveland Cliffs, a company that produces flat-rolled steel and supplies iron ore pellets.

The death of the Norfolk Southern employee that was driving the train was confirmed by officials from Cleveland Cliffs, whereas there is no information on the conditions of the dump truck operator. The causes of this accident have not been made public as of yet and it is not clear why the dump truck was stationing on the trakcs.

Three accidents in a little over a month

This is the third accident in Ohio involving a train operated by Norfolk Southern in a little over 30 days. The first one was a derailment in East Palestine, near the border with Pennsylvania on 3 February and was caused by a wheelset being too hot. This accident caused the leaking of chemicals from the derailed containers, sparking fears of air and water contamination among the citizens of the area.

Image: Derailment in East Palestine. © Nina Turner

The second accident occurred on Saturday 4 March near Springfield, in central-eastern Ohio. This accident did not cause victims nor the dispersion of chemicals. Norfolk Southern was ordered to pay for and carry out cleanup procedures both in East Palestine and Springfield.

Concerning the accident in February, the company recently pledged to pay around several million euros to cover the expenses caused by the derailment. Five million will be spent to reimburse fire departments, one million for the Beaver and Lawrence counties, and an additional 1,4 million will be paid to state agencies that responded.

Image: Derailment in Springfield. © Xaviaer DuRousseau

Norfolk Southern announced a six-point safety plan

In the wake of the accident in early February in East Palestine, Norfolk Southern published a six-point plan to improve their safety. Three of the six points focus on hot-bearing detectors. First, the company stated that they are studying a solution to reduce the distance between the detectors by adding 200 of them in key points, allowing for more thorough monitoring.

Moreover, the company claimed that they are working with detector manufacturers to accelerate the deployment of multi-scan hot-bearing detectors. These scans, as Norfolk Southern explained, can scan a greater cross-section of a railcar’s bearings and wheels. The third and last point concerning hot-bearing detectors entails a comprehensive review of standards and practices for their use. One of the revisions proposed by Norfolk Southern in this regard is to reevaluate the temperature threshold at which an alarm is triggered.

The fourth point of the company’s plan, Norfolk Southern pointed out that they want to speed up the implementation of acoustic bearing detectors. These detectors analyse the acoustic signature of vibration inside the axle and can identify potential problems that a visual inspection could not. The fifth item on the company’s new safety plan entails a collaboration with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to implement AI to identify defects and necessary repairs. The last point mentioned that Norfolk Southern has joined the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System. This system encourages workers to speak up when they see something that is unsafe.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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