COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — A train derailment in Springfield, followed closely by an accident that killed a rail worker in Cleveland, show that railroads could and should be made safer, Ohio’s junior U.S. Senator said.
J.D. Vance on Tuesday promoted his rail safety reform legislation he is working on with Sen. Sherrod Brown.
A Norfolk Southern train derailed Saturday in Springfield. No hazardous materials were involved. Meanwhile, Tuesday morning, a crash involving a train and a dump truck killed a conductor in Cleveland. Both happened on the heels of the Feb. 3 disaster in East Palestine.
“I think it's indicative of a problem that we have in our country, which is we have way too many train crashes,” Vance said.
Vance said firefighters in the Springfield derailment were unclear for some time about what the train was carrying, and he called that a problem. Gov. Mike DeWine made similar comments about the derailment and chemical release last month in East Palestine, calling it “ridiculous” that local officials did not know what chemicals were being transported through their area.
Vance said safety needs to be improved.
“You're never going to get every train crash eliminated, you're never gonna get all train derailments down to zero, but we can do a lot better in this country,” he said. “That's one of the reasons why we have this legislation. We have too many train crashes in America.”
The senator said he knows Norfolk Southern is an active political contributor and expects the company to balk at some proposals.
“They're gonna fight certain pieces of legislation; that's the nature of the process,” he said. “But I am optimistic that we can come together and get something good to pass.”
Barely an hour after Vance spoke to ABC 6 on Tuesday afternoon, the NTSB announced plans to "open a special investigation into Norfolk Southern Railway's safety practices and culture.