Norfolk Southern, the operator of the freight train involved in a toxic chemical derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, has announced its participation in a federal program aimed at improving safety. The program, known as the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), allows employees to report safety issues confidentially, without fear of discipline. This announcement comes nearly a year after the derailment, which prompted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to call on Norfolk Southern and other major freight railroads to join the program.

The railroads had previously committed to participating in the program in March, but it wasn’t until now that Norfolk Southern officially agreed to join. The company will carry out a one-year pilot program that will apply to approximately 1,000 employees in Atlanta, Elkhart, Ind., and Roanoke, Va. This is a small fraction of the company’s workforce, which consists of roughly 20,000 people. Norfolk Southern’s CEO, Alan H. Shaw, expressed the company’s commitment to setting the gold standard for rail safety and stated that they are proud to be the first Class I railroad to deliver on their promise to co-develop and launch a C3RS program.

The federal program, modeled after a similar one for aviation personnel, has raised concerns within the freight rail industry. Some worry that employees may take advantage of the program to shield themselves from punishment after making dangerous mistakes. However, the Association of American Railroads, an industry group, reaffirmed their commitment to joining the program, stating that they have engaged in good-faith conversations with the administration and rail labor about strengthening the program.

In response to the announcement, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged other Class I railroads to follow Norfolk Southern’s lead. “Norfolk Southern has taken a good first step, and it’s time for the other Class I railroads to back up their talk with action and make good on their promises to join this close call reporting system and keep America’s rail network safe,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

Opinion on the topic is divided, with some expressing concerns about potential misuse of the program, while others commend Norfolk Southern for taking proactive steps to improve rail safety.

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By News Desk

This is our News Desk account being managed by our News Staff to publish the latest news and updates. You can reach out to us at

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