Freight Rail & Hazmat Safety – The Signal – 2/16

Subject: Freight Rail & Hazmat Safety – The Signal – 2/16

While hazmat incidents are rare, railroads know that even one incident can impact a local community dramatically. Railroads take the responsibility of shipping hazmat seriously and are committed to keeping citizens and railroaders safe while continually driving toward an incident-free future. Here is information about freight rail’s dedication to hazmat safety.


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  1. Freight railroads are a safe option for hazmat. The Associated Press recently reported: “The railroad industry is generally regarded as the safest option for most goods, and federal data show accidents involving hazardous materials are exceedingly rare.”
  2. Railroads work with first responders to help families and individuals within an affected community. Railroads provide services for displaced families and maintain a presence in the community for as long as necessary to limit any inconvenience or displacement of community members. Often railroads will establish specific centers to assess and meet the long-term needs of the displaced population. Additionally, railroads have dedicated claims teams to help resolve matters with affected citizens.
  3. Railroads train first responders and developed a mobile app for them. Freight railroads train tens of thousands of first responders each year at local firehouses, online and at the world-class Safety & Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) to ensure they know how to respond to a rail incident safely. Railroads also helped develop the AskRail app, which gives first responders immediate information about the type of hazmat a train is carrying, details about that hazmat, emergency railroad contacts and more.
  4. Integrated response teams monitor, mitigate and respond to incidents: Railroads have full-time environmental personnel who work with first responders, state officials, government agencies like PHMSA and FEMA, and environmental agencies to safely manage active rail incidents and mitigate impacts according to their emergency response plans and strict federal regulations. All major railroads have 24/7 emergency response teams that provide local officials with access to information and resources — from response equipment staged throughout the network to clothing for displaced families.
  5. Railroads adhere to strict tank car regulations. Railroads follow rigorous design standards for rail cars carrying hazmat and have worked with the FRA to create software that determines the safest and most secure routes for hazmat.


  1. 99.9% of all hazmat shipments reach their destination without incident.
  2. Since 2012, the hazmat accident rate has declined by 55%.
  3. Over the last ten years, less than 1% of all train accidents have resulted in a hazmat release.