Norfolk Southern Railroad Cuts Costs, Can Safety Cuts Be Far Behind? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

            In a December 2008 edition of the Norfolk, Virginia (VA) based paper, The Virginian Pilot, the business section reported that Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS) was cutting costs by reducing the number of workers and other measures aimed to keep corporate profits and stock prices high.  These railroad company layoffs can have a serious effect on worker injuries and the safety of the public grade crossings.  Norfolk Southern Railroad currently has about 30,000 railroad workers and employees across its system spanning the eastern United States.  The workers at Norfolk Southern, which swallowed up much of the old Conrail Railroad system a decade ago, include crafts such as locomotive engineers, conductors, Carmen, signalmen, trackmen, laborers, and machine operators.  Already in recent years you have seen reductions in railroad work forces that have been drastic.  For example, train crews that operate the locomotives and railcars going down the railroad tracks in the past had three, four, or five people per train.  Now the same jobs are done by two man crews and with the use of remote control devices, even one-man crews.  This work force reduction puts extraordinary pressure on the one or two people left operating these huge machines.  It is inevitable that with this short staffing there are going to be more injuries to railroad workers resulting in FELA claims and disability to individual workers.

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