Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

South Carolina City Finds Norfolk Southern Unreceptive to Crossing Safety Concerns

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Orangeburg, South Carolina – January 25, 2015)

A spate in railroad grade crossing accidents has raised safety concerns among city officials and residents alike in Orangeburg, SC, but the Norfolk Southern railroad has indicated no interest in reducing train speeds which the railroad has raised from 15 mph to 30 mph in 2000, and from 30 to 49 three months later.  The city’s first complaint to the railroad regarding the city’s safety worries was via an official letter written to railroad authorities just two days before the second increase of train speeds became effective in early 2001, and the most recent request went out in November of last year.

“Norfolk Southern has made no official agreement to slow trains down as they come through the city,” stated Orangeburg City Administrator John Yow, who pointed out that, although a city ordinance limits train speeds through the city to 15 to 20 mph, the railroad claims federal exemption from local restrictions due to regulation through the interstate commerce act.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman offered little hope of any railroad receptivity, saying that “We operate trains through hundreds of similar-sized cities at 49 mph with few crossing incidents. What sets Orangeburg apart is the number of crossings. Orangeburg has significantly more crossings within a given distance than most places,” said the NS spokesman to Times and Democrat Writer Gene Zaleski, adding that “The more crossings you have, the greater opportunity for collisions, regardless of the speed of the trains.”

Yow, meanwhile, indicated the city was supportive of numerous crossing safety improvements, but felt any plan would have to include a reduction in train speeds. “Why not make every effort to improve safety,” Yow asked The T and D reporter. “Why is not lowering the train speed a part of that?”

Orangeburg City Councilman Bernard Haire, who has been “an outspoken critic of Norfolk Southern’s operations through the city” told the reporter that the railroads desire for higher train speeds “isn’t worth the life of the individual. The last accident that occurred is unfortunate in that we had a loss of life.”


Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8