Jason Cox with the Transportation Communications Union testified Friday during the second day of the NTSB hearing that the railcar that caused the derailment wasn’t inspected by Norfolk Southern even though it passed through three railyards where qualified inspectors were working.
Cox said the lack of inspections reflects changes Norfolk Southern has made since 2019 to slash the ranks of car inspectors and other employees, and that the company increasingly uses a loophole in federal regulations to rely on train crews to complete inspections instead of experts trained to do that work. He said train crews look at just 12 points on a rail car instead of the 90 to 105 points a carman checks.
Furthermore, Cox said, carmen are pushed to inspect a car in just one minute instead of the roughly three minutes they had before the railroad started making operational changes over the past four years. Norfolk Southern’s representative at the hearing, Jared Hopewell, denied the railroad has a time limit for inspections. Cox cited a deposition from a Norfolk Southern manager that confirmed a one-minute goal.