Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Closing Statement
Washington, DC - February 14, 2012
Railroad Accident Report - Cherry Valley, Illinois, June 19, 2009
(As Prepared for Delivery)


I want to thank my fellow Board members for their participation today. I also want to recognize the NTSB staff who completed this accident investigation and developed this report, in particular, the staff from the Office of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Investigations and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Dick Hipskind, the Investigator-in-Charge, and his team did an excellent job.

I'd also like to acknowledge the many groups and individuals who assisted in the emergency response and recovery efforts immediately after the accident.

Finally, it's important to recognize the Canadian National Railway Company for the actions it has taken since the accident to address deficiencies identified in the investigation - without waiting for us to issue our safety recommendations. These include implementing new procedures for handling weather bulletins and emergencies and improving communication, as well as efficiency testing regarding train consist accuracy. This is exactly what we want to see: changes to improve safety and prevent future accidents.

While the washout of a track structure and the failure to notify an oncoming train of the danger in time to stop the train caused the derailment, no one person or single action along the way was solely responsible.

This accident could serve as a case study for all modes of transportation about why safety management systems are so important. You can have safety procedures - and you can have employees designated to perform safety functions - but unless you ensure those procedures are followed and employees are communicating effectively, they will not prevent accidents.

We stand adjourned.