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First publish date: 05-17-2006
Railroad Safety Increased as Harriman Awards Announced
Employees at the nation's railroads reported their lowest employee casualty rate in history during 2005, Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, said today at a luncheon ceremony honoring railroads with the best employee safety records last year.
Twelve railroads received gold, silver or bronze E.H. Harriman Memorial Safety Awards in four separate categories at the awards luncheon.
Hamberger told the audience that the railroad industry employee casualty rate has dropped almost 70 percent over the past 15 years.
He called last year's achievement "remarkable," made more so by the record volumes of freight railroad handled and the thousands of new employees hired. He said the ability to reduce employee casualties in light of those two circumstances "is a tribute to railroad industry training programs and the dedication of our 225,000 employees."
The railroad industry has one of the most comprehensive and thorough training programs of any industry in the U.S. Many of those training programs are conducted in cooperation with local community colleges and offer classroom work as well as hands-on training. Major railroads also maintain their own high-tech training centers which include practice tracks where students work with locomotives and freight cars, and locomotive simulators that prepare students for conditions they will face while operating trains. Other specialized training is provided for track and signal maintenance workers as well as mechanics who repair locomotives and freight cars.
Norfolk Southern Corporation took top honors for the seventeenth consecutive year in Group A, comprised of line-haul railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more during the award year. In this category, the silver award went to the BNSF Railway, while CSX Transportation took the bronze.
In Group B, line-haul railroads with 4 to 15 million employee-hours, Canadian Pacific Railway's U.S. subsidiary took the gold medal, moving up from the silver award it received last year. Kansas City Southern Railway received the silver medal while Metra, the Chicago commuter railroad, took the bronze medal.
In Group C, line-haul railroads with fewer than 4 million employee-hours, the Florida East Coast Railway took the gold medal. The silver medal went to Pan Am Railways while the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern earned the bronze.
For Group S&T, switching and terminal companies, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis won the gold medal for the fourth consecutive year. Conrail was named winner of the silver medal, also for the fourth straight year, while the Belt Railway Company of Chicago took the bronze medal.
Four railroads received special certificates of commendation for continuous improvement in safety performance. They were BNSF Railway, Conrail, METRA and the Texas Mexican Railway, which is now part of Kansas City Southern.
The annual rail employee safety awards were founded in 1913 by the late Mrs. Mary W. Harriman in memory of her husband, Edward H. Harriman, a pioneer in American railroading. For many years, the program was sponsored by their two sons, E. Roland Harriman and the Honorable W. Averell Harriman, now both deceased. The awards are currently administered under the auspices of the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute, with support from the Mary W. Harriman Foundation.
At the time the Harriman Awards were founded, railroading was considered among the nation