One union of rail workers has questioned declining maintenance standards following the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which forced the evacuation of the 5,000-person town earlier this month.
The NTSB is still investigating the cause of the derailment and will publish a preliminary report in two weeks.
Wayside hot-box detectors are typically placed every 25 miles along a railroad, according to a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) report.
Declining head counts have led to these mechanisms receiving less preventative maintenance, according to an official from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen union.
Norfolk Southern did not respond to a request for comment, and the FRA declined to comment on the record.
As recently as three years ago, Norfolk Southern employed five electronic leaders in the area of its rail network that includes East Palestine.
After that position was eliminated in Norfolk Southern’s Division B, Hand said its responsibilities were likely transferred to a signal maintainer. »