June 2, 2014
The Peach State Whistle-Stop Safety Train this week starts a 327-mile tour from the heart of South Georgia to the carpet capital of the world, calling attention to highway-rail safety and trespasser awareness.
The train, stopping in nine cities from Valdosta to Dalton in three days, is operated by Norfolk Southern Railway and Operation Lifesaver to raise public awareness about being safe and alert around railroad property and highway-rail grade crossings.
The whistle-stop safety train begins Tuesday, June 3, the sixth annual observance of International Level Crossing Awareness Day, at Valdosta, traveling to Warner Robins with a stopover at Tifton. Wednesday, June 4, the train departs Macon for Jonesboro, with a stop at Barnesville. On Thursday, June 5, the train travels from Atlanta to Dalton, stopping at Rockmart.
Invited passengers include state, county and municipal elected leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers and emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety.
"Our goal is to save lives," said William Miller, Norfolk Southern manager grade crossing safety. "Car-train crashes and casualties caused by trespassing on railroad property are preventable, and we want to remind Georgians to be safe around highway-rail grade crossings and other railroad property."
In 2013, 96 vehicle-train collisions in Georgia resulted in 13 fatalities and 63 injuries. Fifteen people died and 21 people suffered serious injuries while trespassing on railroad property. Nationally, 1,193 people died or were injured seriously in highway-rail grade crossing incidents, and 908 were killed or injured while walking on or near railroad tracks.
"Georgia historically ranks in the top 10 states nationally for vehicle-train collisions and trespass incidents because of the high volume of train and vehicular traffic and the large number of crossings, nearly 8,000," said Jennie Glasgow, Operation Lifesaver state coordinator. The state has one of the most extensive freight rail networks in the U.S., with 5,000 miles of track. "It is imperative that we remind citizens continuously of the inherent dangers of trying to beat a train at a crossing or otherwise trespassing by taking shortcuts on railroad tracks."
The safety train includes two vintage passenger railroad cars restored by Norfolk Southern and outfitted with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive. Passengers see firsthand what engineers see every day from locomotives pulling thousands of tons of freight, keeping Georgia's economy thriving.
The train, powered by two locomotives painted with the Operation Lifesaver logo, also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car and an NS research car. The Exhibit Car showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation. The research car is a mobile laboratory equipped with computers that continuously acquire and analyze data and monitor track conditions and locomotive performance en route.
The Georgia train is one of four safety whistle-stops Norfolk Southern will operate across 1,569 miles of railroad, stopping in 41 cities in 10 states. June 9-13, the Appalachian train will operate from Cleveland, Tenn., to Lynchburg, Va. The Keystone train will operate from Harrington, Del., to Latrobe, Pa., June 23-16. The Great Midwest whistle-stop will travel from Monroe, Mich., to Moberly, Mo., July 7-11.
Operation Lifesaver (www.oli.org) 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. Its new campaign, "See Tracks? Think Train," is featured in Georgia radio and TV spots and on billboards. Georgia Operation Lifesaver (www.georgiaol.org) was formed in 1974 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
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.