Rail Industry

Rallying for Rail Safety & Reform

Jul 10, 2015

It’s been two years since several petroleum tank cars derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, claiming 47 lives and almost destroying the small Canadian town in eastern Quebec. Activists in Richmond are using the anniversary to not only commemorate the victims, but also draw attention to rail safety and reform.  

Dozens gathered in Richmond to honor the lives lost in Lac Megantic with a vigil and to discuss the impacts of a similar disaster – as well as what policy measures are needed to avoid one. Kendall King with the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition was in attendance:

Excursions Planned for Steam Passenger Locomotive

May 6, 2015

Tickets are now on sale for Norfolk & Western Class J 611 excursion this spring and summer.

There are several day trips around the state, and you can find the schedule here.

LuAnn Hunt, City of Lynchburg, via Associated Press

It’s been nearly two months since a train derailed in Lynchburg, sending a fireball into the sky above that city’s downtown and spilling oil into the James River. 

Experts said the accident could have been far worse, and many communities along the state’s 3200 miles of railroad face similar dangers. 

The city of Lynchburg grew and prospered for decades because freight moved easily here – first by river and then by rail.  Trains were a routine part of city life, but on April 30 that routine was shattered.

Each year officials investigate an average of ten derailments in Virginia alone.  Most involve coal or grain – cargoes unlikely to cause trouble for nearby communities, but a growing number of trains now carry oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota. 

Because it contains high levels of gas, it’s more volatile than some other forms of crude, and transporting it by rail could be putting whole communities at risk. 

For decades Americans have worried about our dependence on foreign oil and gas.  By 2005 we were importing 60% of our energy, but in 2008 a new technology called horizontal hydrologic fracturing or “fracking” raised the promise of energy independence. 

U.S. crude production is up 50% and  imports have fallen 35%.  But getting oil from a massive shale deposit in North Dakota to refineries is raising serious concerns about public safety.