Pittsburgh to Study Rail Infrastructure, Derailment Prevention

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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City of Pittsburgh via YouTube

Pittsburgh officials joined leaders from a half-dozen other Pennsylvania municipalities on March 7 in calling for an investigation into the region's rail infrastructure and tighter regulations for railroad companies.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, along with mayors from nearby communities, issued a joint statement expressing concern about how the aftermath of the East Palestine freight train derailment might affect residents in Western Pennsylvania, according to a WESA report

“As a region, we must continue to monitor the ongoing tragedy in East Palestine, Ohio for any potential short-term or long-term impacts we may see in order to do all we can to protect our air and water for our residents and the region’s wildlife,” the statement said.

The statement comes as crews continue cleanup efforts at the site of the recent Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and a second train derailed in the state during the weekend. 

East Pittsburgh Mayor Markus E. Adams, Beaver Falls Mayor Kenya Johns, Farrell Mayor Kimberly Doss, Homestead Mayor John Burwell, and Rankin Mayor Joelisa McDonald all joined Gainey in issuing the statement, the report said.

The mayors said an investigation is “critical” in order to gain a clear understanding of the condition of rail infrastructure and hold railroads accountable for repairs that may be required.

On March 7, the Pittsburgh City Council also issued a statement calling for stricter regulations for rail companies, according to WESA. The council stated that it supports federal legislation that would require “high-hazard flammable trains to carry more advanced safety and braking equipment, as well as… advance notification regarding hazardous material transportation.”

The city said it would begin collecting data on “the state of our rail infrastructure” to better understand derailment prevention. Council said it would “work collectively to focus investments and response plans in the areas that pose the greatest risk to our residents,” the report said.

Norfolk Southern owns a large portion of the rail infrastructure in the Pittsburgh area, including the line that runs through Station Square.