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Rail inspection program not a factor in Pennsylvania derailment, NS tells NTSB


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently determined a Norfolk Southern Railway derailment that occurred in New Brighton, Pa., in October 2006 was caused by an inadequate rail inspection and maintenance program. No one was injured in the accident, which caused an ethanol spill and fire on a nearby river.

However, the Class I "strongly disagrees" with the NTSB's findings and believes its rail inspection and maintenance program complies with all applicable regulations, NS officials said in a prepared statement. The NTSB has conceded that the railroad performed rail inspections more frequently than required by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations, they said.

"We take strong exception to any contention that we failed to perform a continuous search of our rail for internal defects or that our inspection and maintenance program is inadequate," said NS Vice President of Engineering Tim Drake.

NS plans to file a petition asking the NTSB to reconsider and modify its findings based on newly available inspection data provided to the board last month, but not addressed in the accident report.

"Norfolk Southern used the best available track inspection technology and procedures at the time and used an expert rail defect detection contractor to inspect its rails at a frequency that exceeds FRA requirements," said Drake. "It is highly unlikely that any changes to NS' technology and procedures could have uncovered the flaw that caused the derailment."

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More News from 7/28/2008