Railroad group warns that car flaw could cause derailments


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The main U.S. railroad trade group took the rare step Thursday of warning railroads to take certain cars out of service because they could cause a derailment like the ones that have been grabbing headlines recently.

Norfolk Southern discovered a problem with loose wheels on a railcar Wednesday and sent out its warning a day later, according to the Association of American Railroads.

The trade group said the problem was linked to new wheel sets that were installed on specialized steel coil cars beginning in August. The association said all of the cars with those wheels should be inspected and have their wheels replaced immediately.

AAR spokeswoman Jessica Kahanek said it wasn’t immediately clear how many railcars might be impacted or their location.

Railroad safety has been in the spotlight since a fiery Norfolk Southern derailment in Ohio last month. Roughly half of the town of East Palestine had to be evacuated after several hazardous materials cars caught fire. The railroad’s CEO was answering questions about that wreck at a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

Three other derailments have been reported across the country in the past week, although none of those involved hazardous materials.

None of the recent derailments have been linked to the cars with loose wheels that the trade group issued its warning about. The National Transportation Safety Board is in the early stages of its investigations of those train crashes.

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