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Investigators find Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama to be missing key safety equipment

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Investigators looking into the derailment of yet another Norfolk Southern train – this time in Alabama – found this week that the derailed train was ill-equipped, missing key safety parts typically found in its alignment system.

The National Transportation Safety Board revealed this week that its investigation had uncovered the absence of parts called alignment control couplers, which serve to keep the parts of the train aligned, especially when coming to a stop. The NTSB reports that the absence of the parts was not noted by company safety inspectors before the trains were put to use.

The March 9 derailment of 37 rail cars in Anniston, Alabama, was the latest in a string of railroad incidents recently involving Norfolk Southern trains, the most damaging of which occurred in early February in East Palestine, Ohio. That accident sent toxic chemicals into the surrounding environment and has left residents experiencing various health issues and other complaints. 

Norfolk Southern denies any of its locomotives are ill-equipped, saying in a statement, “these locomotives were not owned by Norfolk Southern and the couplers on these locomotives are not common on our network.” The statement adds, “[Norfolk Southern will] continue working with the NTSB to identify the final cause of this derailment and implement any other necessary changes.”

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