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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

The Safety Train Schedule - 2017

Binghamton, NY June 6-8
Canton, OH June 15-17
South Bend, IN                    June 27-29
Columbus, OH July 11-13
Louisville, KY July 25-27
Asheville, NC Aug. 8-10
Roanoke, VA Aug. 15-17
Bristol, 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

Norfolk Southern Wins National TRANSCAER® Achievement Award

Article by David Schoendorfer, Norfolk Southern
Photos by Casey Thomason, NS Chief Photographer

For the 17th time and 15th consecutive year in 2016, Norfolk Southern earned a National TRANSCAER® Achievement Award. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in support of voluntary efforts by companies and others to help communities prepare for and safely respond to incidents involving transport of hazardous materials.

Norfolk Southern is a class I railroad that operates in 22 states in the eastern portion of the United States. NS has a long history of actively participating in TRANSCAER®, helping communities prepare themselves for hazmat incidents through planning, drills, and training. In 2016, NS conducted TRANSCAER® events in 18 of the 22 states in which they operate. TRANSCAER® training was provided to 5,573 emergency responders. Among the highlights of NS TRANSCAER® programs in 2016 was the launch of the new NS HazMat Safety Train (a multi-million dollar investment) including a dedicated locomotive, 2 training box cars, 3 tank cars, and 2 flat cars w/ ISO containers and multiple valve arrangements that can be made to simulate leaks. NS also has launched a new web-site to help strengthen community relations w/ emergency responders and provide them additional resources - check out . Additionally NS made EMS donations in 16 states, totaling $260,250.

In April 2017, the entire NS Hazardous Materials Group met in Atlanta, GA (on Peachtree Street) to be recognized for this outstanding accomplishment.  Pictured from L-R: John Lerner, Paul Williams, Scott Deutsch, Robert Wood, Cris Burch, James Bryan, Scott Gould, Justin Hahn, Glen Rudner, and David Schoendorfer.

Schoendorfer said, “This is a Big Deal!  I’m proud of the NS HazMat Group and the passion every member of our team exhibits daily to accomplish the mission of better preparing our emergency responders.”

Norfolk Southern and SERTC - Celebrating a 20 Year Partnership

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

Each year Norfolk Southern sponsors an Advance Tank Car Emergency Response Course at the Association of American Railroad’s Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) in Pueblo, Co.  For more info on the training opportunities available at SERTC click the following link:

Over the past 20 years NS and SERTC have been partners in training railroad personnel, emergency response contractor, and local emergency responders.  David Schoendorfer, NS System Manager Hazardous Materials remembers first attending the ERTC in 1991, and has seen it grow over the years into a state-of-the-art training facility for the rail industry and local emergency responders.  Since 1998, NS has held at least one class per year and sometimes as many as five, bringing east coast participants a long way so they can experience this training.

As part of their TRANSCAER® outreach, NS typically pays the full tuition and travel for each emergency responder they sponsor at an average cost of about $3,200 per individual.  That’s quite a commitment, but NS understands the importance of providing this training to responders and the need to support the industry emergency response training center.  Over the years NS has also donated several rail cars, rail switches, and a command bus that are used as props for the hands-on derailment exercises.

FREE Field Guide to Tank Cars Now Available!

The Association of American Railroads is pleased to offer the 2017 Field Guide to Tank Cars which is intended to be used by emergency responders and others in responding to incidents involving railroad tank cars. It provides information on the types, safety systems, stenciling, and markings of tank cars utilized to transport regulated (hazardous materials/dangerous goods) and non-regulated commodities.

This is a Drill! This is a Drill!

Article by Robert Wood and Scott Deutsch, Norfolk Southern
Photos by Scott Deutsch, Norfolk Southern 

On May 10, 2017 a southbound Norfolk Southern (NS) freight train was passing through the Rome, GA area.  A citizen contacted the NS Police Communications Center and complained that a strong pungent odor was present when the train crossed Dempsey Street.  The Chief Dispatcher for the Georgia Division was contacted and the train in question was identified as the 361G.  The train was stopped on the mainline at Forrestville Yard in Rome, GA, The Chief Dispatcher then contacted Robert Wood, NS Assistant System Manager Hazardous Materials, who mobilized an emergency response contractor to inspect the train. 

Immediately yard personnel reported a strong pungent odor in the yard. A light cloud was reported to be emanating from the protective housing of the 10th head car.  The train consist for train 361G was reviewed, and the car in the train, TILX123456 was identified as a load of sulfur dioxide.  Sulfur dioxide is a TIH with a placard number UN1079.  

This was scenario presented to first responders and Norfolk Southern personnel.  Thankfully this was not a real event but a TRANSCAER® table-top exercise hosted by Norfolk Southern.  The exercise included participants from law enforcement, fire service, hazardous material teams as well as emergency management personnel.  The key objective of the exercise was to review the Yard Evacuation Plan for Forrestville Yard with the first responders that would be involved in an actual incident.  The exercise led to some great dialogue between local NS Safety & Service Committee members and first responders, and was pre-planning at its best. 

Meanwhile, up north on the day before, emergency responders and EMA personnel from Aspinwall PA and their mutual aid departments were conducting a table-top exercise coordinated by Norfolk Southern, PA TRANSCAER® companies, and CAI consultants. Several assisting agencies also were role players for this training including Allegheny County EMA, Allegheny County Hazmat teams, and PEMA.  A total of sixty-two emergency responders were fully engaged in solving the derailment scenario they were given. The group worked well together gathering information from the railroad, hazmat teams, local and county EMA’s to assist the incident commander to resolve the incident. 

NS is committed to ensure public safety through collaborative partnerships that will prepare our members and first responders to respond to any emergency.

Norfolk Southern - TRANSCAER® in Pennsylvania

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

The Norfolk Southern Safety Train rolled into the Abrams yard in King of Prussia, PA on May 2nd and trained 125 first responders on railroad safety, locomotive fires, and working with the railroad during emergencies. The first responders also learned about APPS that are available for their smart phones to help them gather important information. Some of those app were ASK RAIL to look up railcars, train consists, and hazardous material information. Also the FRA Grade Crossing app to help identify were you are located on a rail line. The class then headed outside of the classroom for some in-depth training on the various tank cars and the flat cars that contain protective housing for several types of rail cars. The responders had a lot of good questions concerning the rail cars and how the railroad operates. Evening classes work well for getting volunteers to the training.  The primary instructors over the 3-day period were from Norfolk Southern (Scott Deutsch, Scott Gould, and John Casey (retired)) and Conrail (Allen Richter).

Preparing Our Communities Big and Small: TRANSCAER® Outreach Benefits them All!

Article by Glen Rudner, Norfolk Southern
Photos by Glen Rudner, Norfolk Southern 

Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks crisscross both big and small communities throughout the twenty two states that are serviced and bringing TRANSCAER® sponsored training is key to a strong integrated partnership if something occurs.

Recent TRANSCAER® training efforts by NS Hazardous Materials Compliance Officer Glen Rudner have been reaching those small communities that see heavy rail traffic but do not have the staff or budgets to travel to training.  Recently multiple locations in Alabama (Alexander City, Glencoe, and Attalla) and Mississippi (Picayune and Poplarville) have been visited with over 150 emergency responders trained.

“It is truly a great pleasure reaching out to these smaller departments that are unable to attend many of the training programs outside there locality” said Rudner.  “There is an excitement and level of motivation brought to these classes by the responders that want to learn.  Providing them this opportunity helps them and certainly the Norfolk Southern should an incident occurs.”

Along with the training, other efforts that assist the responders include providing tools such as the ASKRAIL, FRA’s Rail Crossing Locator, WISER, and others such as .  These programs allow the responder to recognize, identify, and notify the respective railroads when an issue occurs along their right of ways and it supports the continuing efforts of TRANSCAER to provide for the safety of our communities.

Copyright © 2017 Norfolk Souther Corporation, All rights reserved.
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