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April 16, 2013

All aboard for safety: Restored train cars give local leaders rare perspective

FLOYD COUNTY —

Community leaders and public safety officials from around the region boarded the Norfolk Southern Operation Lifesaver Whistle-Stop train last week and traveled from New Albany to Huntingburg while learning about railroad safety.

The train stopped at the Floyd County YMCA Friday morning and picked up about 70 passengers for its last leg of the railroad-safety campaign.

The mobile initiative began in Buffalo, N.Y., on April 8 and made stops in 13 cities in five states, passing through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and traversing 567 miles of railroad.

Two churning locomotives pulled the rail cars, including an exhibit car fashioned from a 1926 Pullman passenger car, which was converted to a mobile museum in 1971. The exhibit car included information on the history of Norfolk Southern and interactive games geared at educating patrons on railroad safety.

Officials were seated in several restored passenger cars, each equipped with several flatscreen televisions which provided a real-time, engineer's view of the oncoming tracks from a camera positioned on the front of the locomotive.

Norfolk Southern officials handed out literature and shared safety information with the elected officials and first responders invited to participate in the event.

New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot and several of the department’s firefighters were on board the train as the Southern Indiana landscape passed by through the cars’ large windows.

“It is very interesting,” Juliot said of the unique safety campaign. “We deal a lot in public safety with train incidents, from large incidents of derailments to smaller incidents of public citizens being injured on a railroad. This is a nice program where we can come aboard and see what they see every day while on the job.”

While the campaign teaches community leaders about train safety, Juliot said he and other officials are looking to apply those safety principles to create a safer infrastructure in New Albany. 

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