Looking for the real cause behind a major accident? Follow the facts, not conspiracy theories.
We decided to see how many railroad accidents have there been? How many Norfolk Southern accidents involved 'brakes'?
The U.S. Department of Transportation collects are freely shares this information here including details such as:
> When and where the accident took place? What was the train speed?
> What was the cause reported by the railway company?
> Link to the accident report filed with the DOT?
> How many engineers and brakeman were involved?
> How many rail cars had hazardous material?
> What was the damage?
> How many people were injured or killed?
This map shows 593 incidents reported by Norfolk Southern to the Department of Transport that involve 'brakes'. The map also includes an overlay of the Senator and Governor for the area where the accident took place. Links to details on lobbying by the railroad companies to weaken regulations from the Lever and Jacobin are also included.
Review the facts and follow the money for yourself. Don't fall for blame shifting by Republicans who weakened train safety regulations.
Rail accident report form
Norfolk Southern lobbying
Norfolk Southern helped convince government officials to repeal brake rules — and corporate lobbyists watered down hazmat safety regs. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) — the Senate’s third largest recipient of rail industry campaign cash — pushed to repeal the electronic braking rule outright, before settling for a measure requiring additional research and a new cost-benefit analysis of the technology. Under former President Donald Trump, the braking upgrades quickly became another casualty of his administration’s slash-and-burn approach to regulatory policy. - Lever News
"Corporations are people too" - Mitt Romney (R-UT)
Let's hold corporations responsible for their actions and punish them just like other people then. You can be arrested for speeding, but a corporate exec can get away scott free for creating an environmental disaster that harms millions of Americans. Investors make billions from corporations and proclaim their ethics, but bear no responsibility for the harm they fund. How fair is that? It's time to start holding corporations accountable for their actions, just like any other criminal.
Corporations have freedom of speech, thanks to a Republican packed Supreme Court. Corporations can give unlimited funds to politicians to get the laws they want thanks to the John Roberts Supreme Court.
Railroad money talks
"After rail industry donors delivered more than $6 million to GOP campaigns, the Trump administration — backed by rail lobbyists and Senate Republicans — rescinded part of that rule aimed at making better braking systems widespread on the nation’s rails. Specifically, regulators killed provisions requiring rail cars carrying hazardous flammable materials to be equipped with electronic braking systems to stop trains more quickly than conventional air brakes. Norfolk Southern had previously touted the new technology — known as Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes — for its “potential to reduce train stopping distances by as much as 60 percent over conventional air brake systems.”
Specifically, regulators killed provisions requiring rail cars carrying hazardous flammable materials to be equipped with electronic braking systems to stop trains more quickly than conventional air brakes. Norfolk Southern had previously touted the new technology — known as Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes — for its “potential to reduce train stopping distances by as much as 60 percent over conventional air brake systems.” But the company’s lobby group nonetheless pressed for the rule’s repeal, telling regulators that it would “impose tremendous costs without providing offsetting safety benefits.” That argument won out with Trump officials." - The Lever
'The Truth Will Set You Free'
The facts are out there but sometime there are hard to find and understand. That's where data analytics and maps come in handy. We filtered 215,849 railroad accidents reported to the Department of Transportation. There were 8,468 involving Norfolk Southern. These records were filtered for those where the cause included the word 'brakes'. The resulting 593 records were then mapped with ArcGIS Online in about two hours.
Who weakened train brake regulations?
"The Obama administration in 2014 proposed improving safety regulations for trains carrying petroleum and other hazardous materials. However, after industry pressure, the final measure ended up narrowly focused on the transport of crude oil and exempting trains carrying many other combustible materials, including the chemical involved in this weekend’s disaster
A spokesperson for the agency confirmed to The Lever that the derailed train was not equipped with ECP brakes.
“Would ECP brakes have reduced the severity of this accident? Yes,” Steven Ditmeyer, a former senior official at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), told The Lever. “The railroads will test new features. But once they are told they have to do it… they don’t want to spend the money.” A spokesperson for one advocacy group pressing for tougher safety regulations said the Ohio disaster is the latest consequence of the rail industry’s cost-cutting, profit-at-all cost business model. - The Lever
TakeAway: Hold railroad company execs who put profit above all else, and the Republicans who weakened train safety regulations accountable for their actions.
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