Rail is the safest, most efficient, and most sustainable way to transport goods over land. And every day, we take meaningful action to make our railroad even safer.

The Safest Way to Move Freight

Every major metric from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) proves that rail is the safest way to move freight. But we at Norfolk Southern, and the industry as a whole, will never stop working to be safer until we achieve our goal of zero accidents.

We're leveraging technology and data-driven solutions to spot problems earlier and solve them faster. We’re investing in infrastructure and equipment to make our networks safer. We’re modernizing operating and maintenance protocols and empowering employees to raise their hands when they see an issue. And we’re working collaboratively with suppliers, customers, lawmakers and regulators, and our employees to identify actionable steps to make our nation’s freight rail system safer every day.  

Norfolk Southern locomotive leveraging rail safety

The rail industry is dedicated to ensuring that the most efficient and sustainable way to move freight over land is always the safest, and is driven to lead the way toward our goal of a zero-accident future. At Norfolk Southern we are committed to becoming the gold standard of safety in the industry.


safer than moving freight by truck1


industry reduction in derailments from 2000 to 20222

1. US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Table 2-6: Hazardous Materials Fatalities, Injuries, Accidents, and Property Damage Data; Last updated March 8, 2023

 2. Federal Railroad Administration Rail Equipment Accident/Incident Data (Form 54) database 2022

Our Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Acting on our continuous improvement approach to safety, we’re bringing the nuclear standard of safety to rail by partnering with Atkins Nuclear Secured (ANS). ANS will evaluate our training programs, oversight and monitoring, and communications protocols. It is our responsibility to strengthen safety at every level, and ANS will help us deliver.


Following the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, we took steps to immediately enhance the safety of our operations, creating a six-point plan to address the preliminary findings of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The plan includes: enhancing the hot bearing detector network, piloting next-generation hot bearing detectors, improving best practices for early warnings on detectors, deploying more acoustic bearing detectors, accelerating our AI Digital Train Inspection program, and actively supporting a strong safety culture for all railroads.

NS Partners for Safety

President and CEO

Alan H. Shaw

“It’s our responsibility to strengthen safety at every level of our operation, for every employee and every community we serve, and that’s a responsibility I take very seriously. Norfolk Southern will be the gold standard of safety in the rail industry.”

Building a Culture of Safety

Safety is a team effort that starts on day one. On the first day a craft employee shows up at our McDonough, Georgia, training center, safety practices and protocols are drilled into everything they learn. It takes each member of the team looking out for themselves and each other to reach our ultimate goal of zero accidents or injuries. It takes attention to detail and a culture of doing the little things right every day.


A culture of safety starts and ends with our people. Senior operations and safety leaders regularly meet with our Local Safety Service Committees (LSSC), made up of frontline railroaders, to improve communication from top to bottom, identify hazards, and mitigate safety conditions to support safe operations.

Norfolk Southern employees gathered for rail safety presentation

Moving Forward as One

Our CEO and the 12 leaders of the unions that keep our trains moving came together in a joint letter to pledge our shared commitment to drive continuous improvement of rail safety at Norfolk Southern. Every day, our teams work hard and stand together to enhance rail safety for our people and the communities we serve.

Norfolk Southern locomotive on track with logos of unions partnering together for better rail safety



reduction in Norfolk Southern mainline accidents from July 2022 to 2023


union leaders united with us in a pledge to drive safety improvements 


reduction in Norfolk Southern employee injury rate since 2020

Advancing Safety in Our Communities

Our dedication to safety includes the communities we serve, where we live and work. Whether it’s communicating with residents about our operations in their area or providing training to local organizations, we work hard to demonstrate our commitment to keeping people and their families safe.

Norfolk Southern employee in repair shop promoting rail safety

Training and Equipping First Responders

To support the communities we serve, we're investing in programs to ensure that first responders in the towns where we operate are trained on railroad safety and specific protocols. We developed the Operation Awareness & Response (OAR) program to provide training opportunities including hands-on experience utilizing a dedicated safety train with a locomotive, specially equipped classroom box cars, and several specially equipped tank cars. Each year, the safety train travels across our 22-state network, providing training to more than 5,000 first responders.

To expand training opportunities, we’re building a dedicated first responder training center in Ohio. The center is temporarily operated out of our yard in Bellevue, Ohio, and has already provided training to more than 400 emergency personnel. This training will ultimately move to the new permanent Fire Service and Emergency Response Training Center.  

We’re also supporting first responders through our Safety-First grants. Given to police, fire, and EMS departments in communities throughout our 22-state network, these grants help communities invest in what they need to keep residents safe, including training programs and safety equipment.


Autonomous Track Inspection

With railcar-mounted cameras that take images of every rail in our network, we’re using autonomous systems to inspect our track and proactively address safety issues.

Close up of railway showing rail safety

AI-Driven Rail Safety

We’re harnessing the power of AI to predict the need for rail maintenance up to five years in the future.

Two Norfolk Southern employees performing maintenance for better rail safety

Digital Train Inspection

We’re revolutionizing train inspection with state-of-the-art camera systems and industry-leading AI models.

Close up of underside of rail car using digital train inspection rail safety technology