NC, SC, OH: Norfolk Souther’s safety train tour continues

3 Aug

1438198639599Last week, Norfolk Southern took its Whistle-Stop Safety Train to the Carolinas to remind motorists and pedestrians to be safe and alert when around railroad tracks and trains. The train, operated by Norfolk Southern in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver stopped in eight cities on a three-day, 390-mile trip from Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC. This week, a 354-mile trip will across Ohio will start in Cincinnati and stop in Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Alliance

“Pedestrians and drivers often do not realise how dangerous it is to walk on or near railroad tracks, or that it can take a mile or more for a train to come to a complete stop,” said Cayela Wimberly, Norfolk Southern director of grade crossing safety. “Our goal is to share information that will stop people from risking their lives by trying to beat a train to the crossing or using railroad tracks as a shortcut.”

Across the United States. last year, 267 people died 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, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics.

“The use of cell phones, texting, and listening to music while driving has contributed to people being distracted from the roadway and the warning signs alerting them to railroad tracks,” said Janice Cowen, Operation Lifesaver South Carolina state coordinator. “People do not realize that it is criminal trespassing to walk on or near railroad tracks. Not only is it against the law, you could lose your life.”

The safety 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 every day from the locomotive cab. The train also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car, which showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation.

Invited guests include county and municipal elected 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.

State and local law enforcement agencies are on hand to enforce correct behaviour at level crossings along the route of the safety train.

Aboard the safety train, riders are hearing first-hand about the dangers of trespassing on the railway from Mark Kalina Jr., who survived a 2012 pedestrian-train incident in Ohio and is now a double amputee.

“Two years and nine months ago, I made the biggest mistake of my life. To save five minutes, I took a shortcut on the railroad tracks. Now I travel the country warning others never to make the same mistake,” said Kalina, who is the spokesperson for the Operation Lifesaver “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety campaign.

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