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A recent article published at examines how the railroad industry has continued to aggressively lobby against federal safety regulations since the 2023 East Palestine disaster, even as new data suggests that increases in train length have made derailments more likely.

The rail industry trade group Association of American Railroads (AAR) spent more than $4.4 million on lobbying in 2023 — including on “issues related to train length.” AAR also spent $1.3 million lobbying in the first quarter of 2024 on “issues related to rail safety” and other topics. Norfolk Southern spent more than $5.7 million since January 2021 lobbying the FRA, Congress, and other regulators on issues related to train length and weight, among other topics, federal disclosures show.

According to a new academic study evaluating a decade’s worth of Federal Railroad Administration data, a 100-car train is 11 percent more likely to derail than two 50-car trains, and a 200-car train is 24 percent more likely to derail than four 50-car trains.

The article also references BLET’s October 2023 letter to the FRA urging the safety agency to issue an Emergency Order on excessive train length. In response, the rail industry’s lobbying group, the Association of American Railroads, pressured the FRA to deny the request — and it has since stalled.

The full article is available here.

Photo courtesy of Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659