Alabama agencies working to prevent train derailments

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There are more than 3,000 miles of train track in Alabama. The state’s Public Service Commission says it’s doing everything it can to prevent what happened in Ohio from happening here.

Clean up continues in eastern Calhoun County after a train heading to Atlanta derailed early Thursday on Iron City Motorway and Angel Road. We’re told all 30 cars were empty. Some of those cars, when filled, can carry hazardous material.

“There is no risk at all to the public. Obviously, it’s in an interesting spot here where we have to maneuver our equipment in there so we’re working with of course local property owners and anyone else who may have been impacted to get that fine as safely as possible. Do want to ask the public to stay away. It’s a big operation,” Connor Spielmaker, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, said.

Like in many states, some trains in Alabama carry hazardous materials from point A to point B. It’s the Alabama Public Service Commission’s job to make sure things stay on track. The commission says it inspects railroad tracks focusing their efforts on problematic areas. Over the years, they’ve found 90% of derailments happen in the same few spots.

“We do work with the companies when we find something wrong and we are able to use the federal guidelines to fine the companies if we find something wrong,” Twinkle Cavanaugh with the Alabama Public Service Commission said.

According to federal railroad data, there are about 3 derailments every day in the U.S. There were a little over 1,100 nationwide last year.

In Alabama, derailments are on the decline with 22 last year compared to 40 in 2021, according to the PSC.

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