Jefferies said the railways had taken several steps after the East Palestine accident to improve safety. Previously, the industry required railroads to stop and remove a car if a wheel bearing temperature reached 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In July, the association demanded that action at 170 degrees. (The East Palestine train’s wheel bearing at one point reached 253 degrees, according to a detector on the track.)
Union Pacific, the largest railroad in the United States as determined by miles of track, reported a 32 percent increase in accidents in the period. Kristen South, a company spokeswoman, said some accidents, such as those caused by objects on the track, were outside the railroad’s control and that the focus should be on “serious” derailments, a category she said. fell 5 percent last year in Union. Peaceful.
BNSF, the second-largest railroad in the United States, owned by Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, showed a 10 percent increase in accidents in the period. Kendall Kirkham Sloan, a BNSF spokesperson, said the company was the safest railroad in the country, according to the federal government’s safety measures, and that training and technology were reducing accidents.
CSX, the third-largest railroad, reported a 31 percent increase in accidents in the 10-month period. Bryan Tucker, a spokesman, said the company’s safety performance had been “challenged” by hiring many new employees after the pandemic, but it beefed up its training last year and that contributed to a sharp drop in accidents in the fourth quarter. As a result, CSX on Wednesday reported an accident rate, which measures accidents as a percentage of distances traveled by trains, that was slightly lower in 2023 than in 2022 (its accident total still increased).
The overall performance of the five railroads last year would have been worse if not for a significant improvement at Norfolk Southern, which reported 29 accidents in the first 10 months of 2023 on its main lines, down 37 percent from 46 in the same period of 2022. .