Safety Train Begins 23 City Tour for First Responders (Learn More-Video)

Norfolk Southern’s safety train will stop in 23 cities as part of its 2017 Operation Awareness & Response (OAR) program, which provides free training to firefighters, police officers, emergency management personnel, and other first responders on how to safely respond to a rail-related hazardous materials incident.

During the 2016 tour, the Safety Train completed training for 1,926 first responders in 18 cities in 13 states across NS’ rail network.

The 2017 safety train kicked off on March 21 in Hagerstown, Md., with three days of training at Norfolk Southern’s rail terminal.

Additional stops include communities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina.

The full schedule is available at the OAR program website,

(In keeping with a strong tradition of safety, Norfolk Southern recently rolled out a new educational train and website to help first responders across its network respond to potential rail-related incidents. Courtesy of Norfolk Southern and YouTube)

The OAR safety train is composed of a 2,000-horsepower, 273-ton locomotive painted in honor of emergency responders; two boxcars converted into 30-seat classrooms; four styles of tank cars: DOT-105, DOT-111, DOT-112, and DOT-117; and two 89-foot flatcars used to transport intermodal containers.

Each four-hour training session includes classroom instruction and hands-on training inside a locomotive and on rail cars.

The sessions are recommended for representatives of fire and law enforcement departments, emergency medical services and hazmat response teams, military and homeland security personnel, and railroad customers and suppliers.

John Irwin, Norfolk Southern assistant vice president safety and environmental
John Irwin, Norfolk Southern assistant vice president safety and environmental

“We’re committed to moving all materials on our railroad safely,” said John Irwin, Norfolk Southern assistant vice president safety and environmental.

“Important components of our safety culture include building relationships with first responders in the 22 states where NS operates and providing in-person educational opportunities like the OAR train.”

NS is a 16-time national TRANSCAER Achievement Award winner. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in voluntary efforts by companies to help communities prepare for and safely respond to incidents involving transport of hazardous materials.

The training includes classroom seminars, hands-on sessions with rolling stock, table-top simulations, full-scale drills, and exercises at training centers operated by NS and the Association of American Railroads.

Norfolk Southern also was instrumental in developing the AskRail™ mobile app, which provides real time rail information to first responders.

(The AskRail app is a safety tool for first responders that provides immediate access to accurate, timely data about what type of hazardous materials a railcar is carrying so they can make an informed decision about how to respond to a rail emergency. AskRail is a backup resource if information from the train conductor or train consist is not available. Courtesy of freightrailworks and YouTube)

Norfolk Southern Corporation  is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 19,500 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States.