On the same day that Norfolk Southern was touting a new partnership with unions to improve rail safety, one of those unions blasted the railroad industry, claiming it is spending millions of dollars to lobby lawmakers to slow down rail safety legislation.

On the eve of President Joseph Biden’s visit to the site of Norfolk Southern’s fiery derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, the railroad published a news release announcing the signing of what it calls a “landmark” safety agreement between Norfolk Southern, Norfolk Southern, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, along with the Federal Railroad Administration.

According to the news release, those involved have agreed to a one-year participation in the FRA’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System.

According to Norfolk Southern, under the pilot program, covered employees can report safety concerns confidentially.

The same day Norfolk Southern released the news of the safety agreement signing, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen posted a link on its website to a February 3 Washington Post report alleging that railroad management’s public positions on railroad safety differ from their lobbying activity.

“Over the past year, the nation’s five largest rail operators together spent roughly $17 million to lobby lawmakers, while donating generously to key members of Congress who oversee transportation issues.” Some of the chief beneficiaries of industry cash are now opposing or slowing down rail safety legislation, according to The Post’s investigation.

 U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was quoted in the story saying, “For 150 years, the rail industry has been one of the most powerful industries in the country. They have spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying. It’s what they do. They’re very good at it.”

 The BLET said that it worked with Washington Post reporter Tony Romm on background for the story.