NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Norfolk Southern's Whistle-Stop Safety Train continues its journey this week, traveling through Ohio Aug. 4-6 to deliver a life-saving message to motorists and pedestrians about staying safe around railroad tracks.
The safety train, a partnership between Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver, a national rail safety public education organization, will stop in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Alliance. The train last week traveled through South Carolina and North Carolina.
"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," said Cayela Wimberly, grade crossing safety director at Norfolk Southern. "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."
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.
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.
"This Ohio Whistle-Stop tour is about building partnerships in our communities with people who can become safety advocates," said Gena Shelton, state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver Ohio. "Have a conversation with your neighbors, your friends, your children about why you should obey traffic signals at grade crossings and stay away from railroad property. It could save a life."
Attendees of the Whistle-Stop tour are hearing from Ohio native Mark Kalina Jr., a double-amputee due to a train-pedestrian incident in Columbus in 2012.
"People in every state need to hear this message, and I'm grateful I can be an advocate for safety here in my home state," Kalina said. "Your safety, your life, and the lives of others are not worth risking just to save a few minutes by taking a shortcut across railroad tracks or trying to beat a train at a grade crossing."
Invited guests on the train include county and municipal leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, news media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety.
The Whistle-Stop Safety Train Schedule is:
- Tuesday, Aug. 4: Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus
- Wednesday, Aug. 5: Columbus-Bellevue
- Thursday, Aug. 6: Bellevue-Cleveland-Alliance
About Operation Lifesaver
Operation Lifesaver is a national nonprofit safety organization whose mission is to end collisions, deaths, and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way.
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
SOURCE Norfolk Southern Corporation