Image courtesy of Norfolk Southern
American railroad operators Norfolk Southern have launched a didactic train and website to assist first responders to react to safety incidents on its railroad. They are part of Norfolk Southern’s Operation Awareness and Response programme launched in 2015 in order to enhance working partnerships with local first responders by delivering classroom, web-based and field training sessions to better equip them to deal with incidents involving hazardous materials and rail operations.
The Norfolk Southern hazmat safety train is a 2,000-horsepower, 273-ton locomotive in livery sporting the insignia of police, fire, and emergency services. It has two boxcars which have been converted into classrooms with a capacity for 30 people, four styles of tank cars (DOT-105, DOT-111, DOT-112, and DOT-1) to train first responders in various car valves and fittings, and two 89-foot flatcars which transport intermodal containers.
John Irwin, Norfolk Southern Assistant Vice President Safety and Environmental, said:
“The NS hazmat safety train is like a rolling classroom, delivering hands-on training directly to emergency responders in communities along our rail lines. We are committed to moving these materials as safely and efficiently as possible, and building partnerships with emergency first responders across our network is a vital part of operating a safe rail network.”
The train will travel through 14 states, where first responders may attend by invitation in locations including Harrisburg, Pa., Baltimore, Chicago, Alexandria, Va., and Columbia, S.C. The launch of the train was accompanied by the announcement that Norfolk Southern have won their 16th National TRANSCAER Achievement Award recognising their contribution to voluntary efforts for communities to prepare for and respond to hazmat incidents.
The website, JoinNSOAR.com, delivers information relating to the transportation of hazardous materials to the public, as well as promoting the benefits of transporting hazardous materials by train.
In 2015, Norfolk Southern trained 4,792 emergency responders, government officials and members of the media in railroad safety by way of classroom seminars, hands-on sessions with rolling stock, table-top simulations, full-scale drills, as well as exercises at training centres operated by NS and the Association of American Railroads. Norfolk Southern was also involved in the development of the AskRail™ app which gives real time information to first responders.
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