A remote-controlled train struck and killed a railroad worker in a CSX railyard on Sunday. Freight railroad safety has been under intense scrutiny since the Norfolk Southern derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio. After this recent fatal incident, railroad unions are demanding an industry-wide review regarding the use of remote-controlled locomotives.
ABC News reported that CSX Carman Fred Anderson was killed in a CSX railyard in Walbridge, Ohio. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident and stated that Anderson stepped into the path of a moving locomotive just before 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The locomotive was being operated by remote control.
According to the Transportation Communications Union, this was the third fatality involving remote-controlled locomotives. A statement from TCU National President Artie Maratea reads:
“Enough is enough. A full-scale review of the use and practices around remote-control locomotives is long overdue. CSX — and every railroad — must evaluate their use of these supposed technological advancements to ensure they are actually making our members safer, and not merely replacing people to continue lining the pockets of Wall Street.”
Since the Federal Railroad Administration’s approval in 2005, remote-controlled locomotives have been primarily used in railyards to build trains. Guidelines for federal regulators stipulate a few broad measures to ensure safety, like imposing a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit. However, the remote controls inherently introduce an element of danger by allowing someone to move a massive machine without being fully aware of what or who is around the vehicle.
CSX is cooperating with the investigation. Railroad spokesperson Sheriee Bowman said in a release:
“CSX mourns the loss of this employee and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. The safety of our railroaders is our highest priority. CSX is working with officials to determine exactly what happened.”