Rail safety expert speaks out following Manatee County train derailment

Rail safety expert discusses Manatee County derailment and other recent crashes.
Rail safety expert discusses Manatee County derailment and other recent crashes.(WWSB)
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 10:44 PM EST
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - A train derailment in Ohio wreaked havoc and environmental concerns. A passenger train crash, possibly caused by human error in Greece on Tuesday, has killed dozens of people. And the latest, a derailment Tuesday morning in Manatee County, brings railway safety into the spotlight on the Suncoast.

All of these incidents are shedding light on the importance of railroad safety. Michael Callanan says outside of human error, derailments happen because of a variety of reasons.

“It could be anything, from the condition of the track or the maintenance that was performed on it,” said Callanan. “Or perhaps something like Ohio, where they had a wheel failure, kind of a domino effect. Once that happens with the wheel, you’re pretty much dragging the train and all the other wheels are going to come off the track.”

Callanan had been an Amtrak conductor for almost nine years and a CSX freight conductor for two years. He says the enforcement of repetitive preventive maintenance is the key for safety on our railroads.

“They’re pretty good with the car inspections, because they’re inspected just about every day,” said Callanan. “But sometimes they inspect them with known defects, they’re not repaired right away.”

As for the Manatee County derailment, Callanan says Seminole Gulf Railway is responsible for the cleanup and repair.

“They own the tracks, they own the equipment and they provide the crews that operate the train,” said Callanan. “Everything from repairs of the tracks, the ownership of the tracks, the whole liability of the accident falls on Seminole Gulf Railway.”