Pennsylvania Senators Urge Norfolk Southern to Join Close Call Reporting System, Holding the Company Accountable

derailment© designbydx / Getty Images / Canva

Pennsylvania U.S. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman sent a letter on Friday to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw regarding the company’s failure to join the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). C3RS allows employees to report near-misses or close calls on railroads when they see them and ensures that the employees cannot be disciplined for reporting these events. Norfolk Southern has not yet joined this program despite saying they would shortly after the derailment affecting East Palestine and Darlington Township.

Last week, the New York Times published a story detailing Norfolk Southern’s hesitations about joining the program, specifically the company’s resistance to the provision that protects employees against retribution for reporting near-misses.

“C3RS is a promising program with real potential to improve rail safety, protect employees, and reduce incidents if adopted by a larger swath of the rail industry,” wrote the Senators. “C3RS acts as one unified database for reporting and, with NASA as an independent third-party administrator, ensures confidentiality and protects against retribution against employees who make reports. Ensuring that employees are not disciplined for reporting near-misses is key to making the program effective, as employees are more likely to report these incidents when they have a guarantee of anonymity and safety from retribution.”

“…After the East Palestine derailment, Norfolk Southern announced on March 2 that it would join the C3RS report system. In the announcement, you stated that the move ‘marks another step [Norfolk Southern is] taking to further [your] commitment to safety.’ However, since your initial announcement, you have not followed through on this pledge. We believe that fully participating in C3RS would be a positive step for Norfolk Southern in committing itself to a culture of safety,” the Senators continued.

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The full letter is available here.

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