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Train Regulations

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

The political battle over the Norfolk Southern train accident has now moved to debates about rules and regulations. And once again, it appears that progressive bureaucrats hold to the cliché: “never let a crisis go to waste.”

First, let’s look at what we know. According to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the derailment in Ohio occurred because of an overheating wheel set. It was detected by a wayside safety device only after it had reached dangerous levels. Nothing in the report suggests that anything unprofessional or criminal resulted in the derailment. It is likely that this crisis will encourage federal and state officials to reevaluate the railway and railroad inspections.

Second, the Department of Transportation has now proposed policy changes. It doesn’t appear that any of the suggestions would have made any difference in this accident. There seems to be some valid reasons to consider some of the proposals that range from paid sick leave to protection of union jobs from automation. But none of these proposals would have prevented the accident.

We have seen this before whenever there has been a highly publicized shooting. All sorts of laws are proposed that wouldn’t have stopped the shooter but are put forward because we need to “do something more than thoughts and prayers.”

From what I have read, “doing something” by adding more regulations might make the problem worse. If transporting hazardous materials (like vinyl chloride) by rail became too expensive, the only alternative would be to transport it by truck, which would be more dangerous.

Over the last few weeks, there has been lots of finger-pointing and political posturing. None of that has helped the people of East Palestine, Ohio. And all the politics surrounding this accident won’t keep Americans who live near train tracks any safer.viewpoints new web version

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