Norfolk Southern breaks ground on regional safety training center in Ohio

Facility will train regional first responders, strengthen coordination between railroads and emergency personnel

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) broke ground Thursday on its First Responder Training Center. The new regional safety training center in East Palestine, Ohio will provide ongoing, free training for first responders from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the greater region. This center will further strengthen coordination between railroads and first responders and build upon the company's Operation Awareness and Response (OAR) program, which trains 5,000 first responders annually across its 22-state footprint.

From left to right: Ohio State Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick, Ohio State Sen. Mike Rulli, and Norfolk Southern VP of Safety John Fleps.

"Norfolk Southern is committed to setting the gold standard for safety in the rail industry, and first responders are critical to that mission," said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw. "First responders are heroes, and we aim to ensure they have the training and expertise to do their jobs safely, no matter the situation. We are grateful to East Palestine's leaders for partnering with us to make this training center a reality."

The new center will attract firefighters and first responders from the region, offering traditional fire service training to all first responders and specialized training for responding to rail and other transportation-related emergencies.

Participating at today's groundbreaking were Shaw, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick, State Representative Monica Robb Blasdell, and State Senator Mike Rulli, as well as local fire fighters and police officers.

"This training center, and our previously expanded Operation Awareness and Response program, will provide first responders across the region with essential training on how to respond to unlikely rail incidents," said Norfolk Southern Vice President of Safety John Fleps. "We're excited to get the training center up and running to bring more capacity for first responder training to all types of incidents, while strengthening the network of professionals specially trained to respond to rail incidents."

Norfolk Southern will invest at least $20,000,000 in the new center over the next 10 years. The center will operate through a partnership with the Village of East Palestine, at no cost to the Village or taxpayers. It will establish a lasting presence in the region, promoting top-tier training for years to come. The center is temporarily operating out of Norfolk Southern's rail yard in Bellevue, Ohio, where more than 400 local emergency personnel have received training this year. Preliminary designs for the new facility are currently in development by architecture and engineering firm, Arcadis. 

Training opportunities at the center will include: classroom, web-based, and online resources, table-top drills, full-scale emergency response exercises, and other specialized training opportunities.

Regional traffic to the center, as a result of the investment, will also bring additional customers to area businesses. This lift to the area's economy and investment in East Palestine's future, works in tandem with a $500,000 economic development grant Norfolk Southern recently awarded the Village of East Palestine.

To date, Norfolk Southern has committed $95 million to East Palestine and the surrounding communities. Learn more at:

About Norfolk Southern
Since 1827, Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) and its predecessor companies have safely moved the goods and materials that drive the U.S. economy. Today, it operates a customer-centric and operations-driven freight transportation network. Committed to furthering sustainability, Norfolk Southern helps its customers avoid approximately 15 million tons of yearly carbon emissions by shipping via rail. Its dedicated team members deliver more than 7 million carloads annually, from agriculture to consumer goods, and is the largest rail shipper of auto products and metals in North America. Norfolk Southern also has the most extensive intermodal network in the eastern U.S., serving a majority of the country's population and manufacturing base, with connections to every major container port on the Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes. Learn more by visiting


SOURCE Norfolk Southern Corporation

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