Norfolk Southern Taking Whistle-Stop Safety Train to Ohio

Norfolk Southern's latest commemorative locomotive honoring emergency first responders (PRNewsFoto/Norfolk Southern)

Norfolk Southern is taking its Whistle-Stop Safety Train to the Heart of it all this week, spending three days in Ohio.

The safety train, which last week traveled through South Carolina and North Carolina, is a partnership between Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver. The program aims to deliver a life-saving message to motorists and pedestrians about staying safe around railroad tracks, Norfolk Southern said in a news release.

Last year, 267 people died in the U.S. in highway-rail grade crossing incidents, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2013, and deaths due to trespassing on train tracks jumped 22 percent to 526 people, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics.

Ohio had the eighth highest number of grade crossing collisions in the nation last year with 86, compared with 71 the year before. Four people died in grade crossing collisions in Ohio in 2014.

“Ohio had a 21 percent increase in the number of grade crossing collisions in 2014, which underscores why this train and its message are so important for Ohioans to hear,” Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director at Norfolk Southern, said in a news release. “We will be talking this week to motorists, parents, school officials, photographers, rail fans, public safety officers, and others about a common sense safety message – when you see tracks, think train.”

Trespassing on railroad property in Ohio accounted for 13 people killed in 2014, a 38 percent drop compared with 21 fatalities in 2013.

“We will remain vigilant and promote safety until that number is zero,” Wimberly said. “Trespassing on railroad property is not only illegal, it puts your life at risk. It’s not worth it.”

The safety train will be pulled by NS’ newest commemorative locomotive, the NS 9-1-1, which honors first responders across Norfolk Southern’s 22-state network. The train includes two restored Pullman passenger rail cars with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive.

Passengers see firsthand what engineers see from the locomotive cab. The train also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car, which showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation.