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Welcome to OAR!

Launched in June 2015, the goal of OAR is to educate the public about the economic importance of the safe movement of hazardous materials by rail and to connect emergency first responders in Norfolk Southern communities with information and training resources. Our website,, has the following information (and a lot more) available at the touch of a mouse.
  • Training options and sign-ups:
    • Hazmat Safety Train Program
    • Tabletop Exercises
    • SERTC Openings
    • Online Training
  • Information on what NS carries
  • How to get the AskRail™ app and other useful response tools
  • Pictures of the NS 9-1-1 locomotive
  • Railroad Emergency Phone Numbers

Enter to WIN!

We are giving away an OAR collectors coin. To sign up, simply send an email to, with details about where you are from and you will be signed up for your chance to win!

The Safety Train Schedule - 2017

Hagerstown, MD March 21-23
Cambria County, PA Fire School April 7-9
Wilmington // Newark, DE April 18-20
King of Prussia, PA May 2-4
Linden, NJ May 16-18
Allentown, PA - Lehigh County May 23-25
Binghamton, NY June 6-8
Canton, OH June 15-17
South Bend, IN // Elkhart, IN June 27-29
Columbus, OH July 11-13
Louisville, KY July 25-27
Asheville, NC Aug. 8-10
Bristol, VA Aug. 15-17
Roanoke, VA Aug. 22 - 24
Hunstville, AL Sept. 12-14
Birmingham, AL Sept. 19-21
Slidell, LA Sept. 26-28
Tuscaloosa, AL Oct. 10-12
Macon, GA Oct. 17-19
Savannah, GA Oct. 31 - Nov. 2
Greenville, SC Nov. 7-9
Charleston, SC Nov. 14-16
Greensboro, NC Nov. 28-30

AskRail – Version 3.0 Available in the App Store

Article by David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern
Photos by David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern

The AskRail ® app developed by the Class I railroads, the Association of American Railroads, and Railinc Corp. is a safety tool that provides first responders immediate access to accurate, timely data about what type of hazardous materials a railcar is carrying so they can make an informed decision about how to respond to a rail emergency.  AskRail is a backup resource if information from the train conductor or train consist is not available.

You can download the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.  For security reasons, only a qualified emergency responder who have completed rail emergency training sponsored by one of the Class I freight railroads or at the Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) can download and use the restricted features in the AskRail app. In addition, railroads can offer the app to known emergency responders along their routes.

On November 29, 2016, Version 3.0 of AskRail was successfully deployed bringing many new features to AskRail.  Additional data is now available including: technical name, packing group, placard image, railcar image, DOT car specifications, commodity quantity, protective action distances (tables), and many other features.

This is a must have for bona-fide emergency responders, and best of all it is FREE.  Don’t miss out on adding this resource to your toolbox. To learn more, go to

Strengthening Community Ties – NS HazMat Rolls TRANSCAER® into Virginia

Article by Paul Williams, Norfolk Southern
Photos by Norfolk Southern Corporate Communications

With a mix of classroom and hands-on instruction, Norfolk Southern’s new educational safety train rolled into Norfolk Terminal at Lamberts Point for a three-day stop on Sept. 13-15, 2016. Hazardous materials employees in NS’ Safety and Environmental Department offered first responders across Virginia an up-close look at how to prepare for and safely respond to potential rail-related incidents involving hazmat.

The safety train visit to NS’ corporate headquarters city coincided with the 2016 Virginia HazMat Conference held in neighboring Virginia Beach. First responders from Norfolk, Suffolk, Roanoke, and Harrisonburg had the opportunity to receive classroom and hands-on training.  A total of 121 first responders boarded the train for instruction during this three day event.

NS hazmat compliance officer Justin Hahn, who was a firefighter in Kannapolis, N.C., for 15 years before joining NS can identify with the first responders. “People outside the railroad don’t really know much about how the railroad operates, so the first part of our TRANSCAER® presentation is an overview of how the railroad works,” he said.

“We tailor the training to individual areas and the types of hazardous materials that are moved through those communities,” said Paul Williams, NS regional manager hazmat. “It’s refresher training for some, but we also have a lot of first timers.  It was invaluable for them to walk away understanding the commitment that NS and the rail industry have to make sure people know how to respond and ensure our communities are the safest they can be.”

Norfolk Southern hazmat safety train recognized by Safe America Foundation

Article by David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern
Photos by David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern and Matt Snell, Conrail Historical Society

First responders from New York to Louisiana have described Norfolk Southern’s safety train as a valuable training tool to help them protect people and property from a potential rail incident involving hazardous material. Now, the safety train has been recognized by the Safe America Foundation.

For its leadership in developing the safety train, Norfolk Southern has received a WorldSafe Award from Safe America. The nonprofit, headquartered in Marietta, Ga., partners with corporate, government, and other nonprofits to improve public safety awareness and preparedness.

Safe America described the Travel Safety Award presented to NS as one of its most prestigious WorldSafe awards. NS was one of 14 companies, individuals, and organizations recognized by Safe America during a November banquet in Atlanta for their contributions to health and safety in the U.S. and globally. In addition to the safety train, NS was cited for its role in creating the AskRail mobile app, an industry safety tool that provides emergency responders immediate access to accurate, timely information about what type of hazmat a rail car is carrying.

Since rolling out the safety train in April 2016, NS has provided free emergency-preparedness training to more than 1,920 first responders during stops in 18 cities in 15 states across the railroad’s network.  Look for the 2017 training schedule at or the TRANSCAER® calendar at

“The NS hazmat safety train is an important part of our TRANSCAER® program, and really helps leverage our community outreach, “said David Schoendorfer, system manager hazmat, who coordinates the training. “The recognition is appreciated, but more importantly we know that our TRANSCAER® program is making a difference and our local emergency responders are better prepared.”

OAR Safety Train Comes to Alexandria

On Tuesday, August 30th, Norfolk Southern hosted guests from the Association of American Railroads, Federal Railroad Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Transportation Security Administration, and Congressional Staffers for a tour of the OAR Safety Train in Alexandria, VA. We were delighted that our guests were able to tour our newest tool for educating the public and strengthening relationships with first responders across the NS network. Hazmat experts were onsite to answer guest's questions, and visitors were able to participate in a 4D "learn the rails" virtual reality experience.

Trinity Rail's collaboration on this event was crucial. Their expertise provided guests with experienced answers to questions regarding hazmat material transportation by rail. We are proud to have included Trinity Rail’s new DOT 117 Tank Car on our Safety Train. On display at each OAR Safety Train event, this car is evidence of the innovative progress being made in rail-safety technologies.

In the days following our event, between Wednesday, August 31st and Friday, September 2nd, an estimated 250 emergency responders underwent training on the OAR Safety Train. Training covers an array of topics, such as:

  • Safety on Railroad Property
  • Rail Shipping Documents
  • Rail Equipment Identification
  • Rail Tank Cars
  • Locomotive Fires
  • Flammable Liquid Unit Trains
  • Incident Response Procedures
  • Working with Railroad Officials
  • AskRail Mobile App 


A strong partnership has been formed by the rail industry and the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) through several of its partnerships. The NDPC was established in 1998 as a Department of Justice program and now operates in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security as the primary means through which the National Preparedness Directorate delivers state and local training. The NDPC has garnered the trust and support of the nation’s first responders and continuously evolves to meet their training needs.

One of those partnerships that has formed is with the Security and Emergency response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo. Through SERTC the NDPC has delivered many training programs that have assisted America’s Emergency Responders to be prepared for incidents involving hazardous materials and rail transportation. The two primary programs are: Tank Car Specialist and Crude by Rail. Both are federally funded programs that are cover through a grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Training and Education Division. There are no costs to the participant that applies and is accepted to these classes. The funding provides transportation (airfare and rental car), lodging, tuition and per-diem for each applicant. Participants register by going to the SERTC website ( and following the specified directions. The participant can choose alternate class dates and it is recommended that they chose three different date. The most important part of the process it to make sure they have their supervisor sign the application and forward to their appropriate state representative as listed for approval.

For fiscal year 2017 there are 14 deliveries of the CBR Course with the availability of 255 seats, which includes 16 for Spanish speaking participants. For the Tank Car Specialist class there are 9 deliveries with 236 seats which includes 14 Spanish speaking participants.

Norfolk Southern is a strong supporter of the programs that are delivered at SERTC and with the funding that is provided by FEMA it strengths the ability of Americas Emergency Responders to perform their jobs in a safe and effective manner, in partnership with the training offered through our OAR program.
Copyright © 2017 Norfolk Souther Corporation, All rights reserved.
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