Railroad's, feds' reports differ slightly on Venice derailment

SANDUSKY The railroad says it has determined the cause of a train derailment in west Sandusky, but a federal agency investiga
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



The railroad says it has determined the cause of a train derailment in west Sandusky, but a federal agency investigating the incident says it can't comment yet.

A Norfolk Southern Railway train operated by Norfolk Southern Corp. derailed at 3:26 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Venice Road crossing.

No one was hurt, but a number of trailers containing toilet paper and paper towels tipped over on their sides. The crossing was closed for much of the next day until railroad workers could replace the crossing's gates and signals, which were knocked over.

A report Norfolk Southern filed on the accident listed the primary cause as "air hose uncoupled or burst."

In a Nov. 28 letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Clifford Eby, stated the accident occurred "as a result of an undesired emergency brake application, but the cause of the undesired brake application merits further investigation."

Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, explained the air hose controls the brakes. When the brakes lose air pressure, they automatically apply, Husband said.

The Federal Railroad Administration has not completed its investigation, so it still has not determined the reason for the brakes being applied, said Steven Kulm, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Federal Railroad Administration. The cause will not be announced until the investigation is completed, Kulm said.

"We don't put out pieces of information," Kulm said.

The Norfolk Southern report said the train was traveling at 7 mph when it derailed. The derailment tipped over 18 loaded freight cars and six empty ones, causing $230,000 damage to the train and $15,750 damage to the train signal.

The train, pulled by two engines, had 50 loaded cars and 96 empty cars when it derailed while it was trying to go into the Sandusky yard through a connection track, the report says.

The Federal Railroad Administration did not originally intend to carry out an investigation of its own, but planned to accept the report filed by Norfolk Southern. It agreed to carry out its own investigation after Brown wrote to the agency and asked it to investigate the wreck.