Feds warn Norfolk Southern to maintain safety focus

By Mike Lee | 02/22/2024 01:46 PM EST

The company has improved its safety record since a 2023 crash spilling trainloads of toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Norfolk Southern freight train derailment.

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed the night before in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 2023. Gene J. Puskar/AP

The Biden administration warned Norfolk Southern, the company responsible for last year’s fiery train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, against “backsliding” on safety while the company goes through a potential management shakeup.

A group of activist investors, led by Ancora Holdings Group, said this week it wants to replace eight of Norfolk Southern’s directors and remove CEO Alan Shaw and other managers. If the investors win, the company would be led by a team of railroad executives who have experience in cost-cutting and lean operations.

In a letter to Shaw dated Wednesday, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration said Norfolk Southern has improved its safety record since the crash, in part by hiring staff.
letter to Shaw dated Wednesday


“Any backsliding, as a result of a change in leadership or otherwise, on the safety-oriented path you have laid out and communicated to us will likely attract renewed oversight attention from my office as we pursue our safety mission,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose wrote.