Federal Report Says Train Derailment Could Have Been Avoided

Sep 6, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration says “serious oversights” led to last year’s train derailment near Station Square.

A report released on Thursday by the agency finds that a broken rail track led to the derailment, on Aug. 5, 2018.

The report states that Sperry Rail Service, which inspects the track for Norfolk Southern Railway, “had multiple opportunities” to identify this hazard. Video evidence shows a broken rail track went undetected for at least 20 days.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Southern said in an email late Friday, "The FRA report is factually accurate. Norfolk Southern has been working with Sperry on improved human procedures and oversight to ensure that this type of error does not happen again."

No one was hurt when a total of seven cars derailed, damaging buildings and rail tracks, and spilling a cargo that included dogfood and Listerine mouthwash. The area was engulfed in a minty scent

Norfolk Southern and the Allegheny County Port Authority are in the process of negotiating a settlement for damages and public transit rerouting costs, which the authority puts at $3 million.

*This report was updated at 10:11 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2019 to include a statement from Norfolk Southern.