Railroads are a safer way to move hazardous chemicals and most other freight, than long-haul trucks, said Martin Oberman, chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, during an interview with the Chicago Tribune March 24.
“Would you rather have your family and your SUV driving down the highway at 75 miles an hour next to a truck filled with chlorine, and the guy doing the driving who didn’t get enough sleep, or would you rather have that chlorine on a railroad?” asked Oberman. “The answer is pretty obvious.”
On March 15, less than six weeks after the East Palestine, Ohio, calamity and amid increasing congressional scrutiny of rail safety, Oberman led the transportation board in approving the $31 billion merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, which will have steep repercussions for Chicago-area communities. And he cited safety as one of his chief reasons for doing so.
The merger could shift 64,000 truckloads of freight a year from trucks to trains, the release said, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and bringing new economic vitality to Canadian Pacific — the railroad with the industry’s best safety record.
Even so, Oberman promised seven years of extra STB monitoring after concerns were raised by first responders, commuter railroads and local businesses about the more frequent trains the merger will bring. The board can extend this monitoring if needed, he said.
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