US-based Norfolk Southern’s safety train has completed its 2016 tour, training 1,926 first responders in 18 cities in 13 states across its rail network.

The safety train started in April this year in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with rolling classrooms and hands-on activities. It provided free training to firefighters, police officers, emergency management personnel other first responders.

Training was provided to prepare them to act accordingly for rail-related hazardous materials incident safely.

Part of Norfolk Southern’s ‘Operation Awareness and Response’ programme, the train comprises a dedicated locomotive, two boxcars converted into classrooms, four types of railroad tank cars, and two specially equipped flat cars.

"Our safety train allowed us to expand our outreach to more first responders and emergency personnel in more communities than ever before."

Norfolk Southern hazardous materials system manager David Schoendorfer said: “Our safety train allowed us to expand our outreach to more first responders and emergency personnel in more communities than ever before, equipping them with education and resources to help raise their level of emergency preparedness in the unlikely event of a rail incident.

“The training also helped us build relationships with first responders across our network.”

For this year, the safety train’s initial stop was in Columbia, South Carolina and 73 first responders received training as part of this.

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The train provided training to emergency responders areas that included Alexandria, Virginia; Buffalo, New York; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chicago, Ohio, and North Carolina.

The company’s hazardous materials experts led a course for four hours at each location that included classroom and interactive teaching.

Part of the training is focused on a mobile application known as AskRail that provides immediate access to first responders with real-time data about the type of hazardous material a rail car is carrying.

This helps them to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency.