Willamette & Pacific Wins Harriman Gold, ASLRRA President’s Awards

GREENWICH, Conn. — Genesee & Wyoming Inc.’s Willamette & Pacific Railroad won the railroad industry’s top awards for 2008 safety performance.

Today it was announced that the W&P, a short line freight railroad based in Salem, Ore., won the E.H. Harriman Gold Award for the best employee safety record among railroads working less than four million employee-hours in 2008.

Harriman Award winners are selected by a committee of representatives from the transportation field and granted on the basis of the lowest casualty rates per 200,000 employee-hours worked, with a formula that accounts for volume of work performed as well as the number of fatalities and occupational illnesses. All data is documented by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The W&P had zero FRA-reportable injuries or train derailments in 2008, which last month also earned it two President’s Awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) for having both the best safety performance and the most employee-hours of injury-free operation in 2008. This marks only the second time that a railroad has won two ASLRRA President’s Awards.

The W&P has not had an FRA-reportable injury in more than three years. Furthermore, the W&P, with 98 employees, and the contiguous Portland & Western Railroad, with 80 employees, form GWI’s Oregon Region, which has been injury-free for more than three years, or nearly 1.5 million employee-hours worked.

“The Harriman Gold Award and ASLRRA President’s Awards are prestigious honors and wonderful recognition of our employees’ deep commitment to safety,” GWI President and CEO John C. Hellmann said. “In the context of an extremely difficult economic environment, it is particularly noteworthy that our Oregon employees have maintained their daily focus on safe operations, resulting in safety performance that is second to none in the rail industry.”

“The safety culture in GWI’s Oregon Region is about more than winning awards,” said GWI Oregon Region General Manager Billy Eason. “It’s about caring for your fellow employee so that everyone returns home safely to their families at the end of the workday. Since our railroaders live and work in the communities where we operate, the customers and communities served by the Willamette & Pacific and the Portland & Western can likewise take pride in the national recognition represented by these safety awards.”

The Harriman Awards were founded by the late Mrs. Mary W. Harriman in memory of her husband, Edward H. Harriman, an American legend in railroading. Today, the awards are administered under the auspices of the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute, with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation.

In addition to its President’s Awards, the ASLRRA presents awards named for railroader Lowell S. “Jake” Jacobson. Jake Awards are presented yearly to ASLRRA-member railroads that outperformed the industry safety average, and members with perfect safety records receive the Jake Award With Distinction. For 2008, GWI railroads received 12 Jake Awards and 26 Jake Awards With Distinction. Outside the U.S., GWI’s rail operations in Australia and the Netherlands were also injury-free in 2008.

— PRNewswire-FirstCall