by Gilbert B Norman
While this Journal article was prompted by East Palestine, it appears to have applicability to the entire industry. Therefore I am submitting to the General Discussion Forum:
In the world of railroading, keeping the trains moving is paramount, and Norfolk Southern Corp. has little tolerance for late departures.It just seems as if East Palestine, from which there have been no reported injuries and in which "the jury is still out" regarding environmental damage is becoming one gigantic "Greatest Show on Earth"
Supervisors can be penalized for trains that are ready to leave but instead sit in rail yards, according to current and former employees of the Atlanta-based railroad. Train inspection time frames are tight. Employees who seek more-stringent reviews of rail equipment or slow down transport can face discipline.
Scott Wilcox, a sixth-generation railroader who is retired from Norfolk Southern, said its railcar inspectors used to have five to eight minutes to check a car’s wheels and brakes for problems like leaky bearings or damaged components. Now they often have between 30 seconds and a minute, he said.
“So basically all they’re doing is connecting air hoses between the cars for the brake system and that’s it,” Mr. Wilcox said. “They don’t have time to do anything else. At least not without getting in trouble.”