Railroad Emergencies and Safety Tips

Railroad Emergencies

A. In the event a railroad emergency occurs such as a railcar explosion, vehicle/train collision, or a train derailment on or close to the campus, take the following action:

  1. Notify Police, Fire, and EMS immediately by dialing 9-1-1. Give your name and describe the location and details of the accident and do not hang up until told to do so. Dialing 911 will initiate the quickest response with local Police, EMS, Fire, Hazmat, and other railroad emergency response resources.
  2. Notify Campus Safety and Police at 336-278-5555 – on campus ext. 5555.
  3. Treat the accident as a potential hazardous materials site. Do not approach the area. Potential hazardous materials include diesel fuel from the train engine as well as other items transported on the train.
  4. In the event a train derailment involves a chemical spill responding emergency personnel will identify the chemicals and determine if an evacuation is necessary or just a shelter in place. Listen and check your phone for announcements from Campus Safety and Police and other emergency responders.
  5. If outside, attempt to get upwind (into the wind) and uphill of the contaminated area to keep hazardous materials and any plume behind you.
  6. After you have secured your own safety, notify emergency personnel of any injured people or if individuals remain in the affected building or at the accident site. If requested, assist emergency crews as necessary.
  7. A campus incident command post may be set up near the disaster site. Keep clear, unless you are authorized by emergency personnel.

Railroad Safety Tips

A. Trains Can't Stop Quickly — A freight train with 150 cars traveling at 60 miles per hour will require 1.5 miles or more to complete an emergency stop.

B. If your car stalls while crossing the tracks, get out immediately and call 911 and then the emergency notification number located on the railroad signal equipment (if available). If a train is coming, abandon the car! Proceed quickly toward the train at a 45 degree angle so that if the train strikes your car you will be safe from flying debris.

C. Trains Can't Swerve — Trains cannot swerve or stop to miss you. Collisions and/or emergency stopping procedures can cause a train to leave its tracks (derail), exposing anyone within the right of way to the danger of being crushed by a derailed train.

D. Trains Can Approach You Without Your Knowledge — Although trains are huge machines, environmental conditions can muffle sounds, whistles, and other train noises. Snow machines, motorcycles, and ATV's pose a special problem because operators may not hear an approaching train over the roar of their own vehicles. Joggers and walkers wearing radio or tape head sets are also prime candidates for an encounter which may end in a tragedy.

E. Trains Present Special Hazards — Those who walk or ride near the tracks also can become targets of flying debris stirred up by trains. Railroad rights of way are off limits to joggers, walkers, bicyclers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, three-wheelers, others — out of concern for their safety and the safety of train crews and passengers.

F. Walking on or near the railroad tracks is dangerous — and illegal.

G. Always look both ways before crossing railroad tracks and cross only in designated areas. Do not cross tracks when gates are down.

I. Always stop your vehicle when crossing gates are down or lights are flashing. Wait for the crossing gates to rise and lights to stop flashing. Look both ways, listen and proceed with caution. For your safety, obey all signs and signals at railroad crossings.

J. Never stop your car on railroad tracks. When approaching an intersection at railroad tracks, keep your car behind the white lines.

SOURCES: Railroad Police and Norfolk Southern Operation Lifesaver Brochure, NCDOT Rail Division Website, University of North Dakota Emergency Management Website