For people that live or work along a certain street in Wytheville, Virginia (VA) the sight of twelve different trains passing through daily is no reason to be concerned. However when a train derailed and scattered 14 cars along the street that was a surprise and a reminder that railroad injuries happen more often than people like to think.
It was encouraging to learn that local officials in Wythe County said there were no injuries or property damage and the state Department of Environmental Quality reported no evidence of any spills from the Norfolk Southern derailment Monday night. But the disconcerting part of the train crash is that the cause of the derailment is still unknown.
Recent crude oil train derailments have brought railroad safety issues into the public spotlight. However as an experienced Virginia (VA) railroad injury attorney I have been well aware of these issues and the terrible injuries that can affect railroad workers and civilians alike for years. I have written in depth about the reluctance of railroad companies like CSX, Amtrak, and Norfolk Southern to spend any money to make their railroads safer.
One safety technology available now that may have stopped this derailment and countless others is Positive Train Control or PTC. It is designed to automatically stop a train before it is able to run a red signal or get itself into other dangerous situations. This is an improvement over the signaling systems that are currently in place, which are able to warn train operators of danger, but still allow the possibility of accidents.