Maintenance of way inspecting tracks in South Carolina


At Norfolk Southern everything starts with safety, especially for the communities we serve. We are committed to becoming the gold standard of safety in the industry.

You Have Questions; We Have Answers

NS is more than just a train rolling through your town. Our employees are your neighbors, family, and friends, and we want to help our communities thrive. Which means putting safety first, always. We know you have questions, so we have answers.

Workers on train putting safety first

Explore Your Safety Questions

Rail is the safest, most efficient, and most sustainable way to move freight over land. 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. For example, it is 50 times safer than moving freight on trucks. Furthermore, since 2000, FRA data indicates there has been a 44% decline in the industry mainline accident rate, 73% decline in the hazmat accident rate, 28% decline in the train accident rate, and 59% decline in the employee injury rate.

We’re acting to make our railroad even safer. We're continuing to leverage technology and data-driven solutions, and investing in infrastructure, inspection technology, and equipment to further enhance our networks. We’re modernizing operating and maintenance protocols and continuing to empower employees to raise their hands. 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 even safer every day.


The safety of our employees and communities is our number one priority. We diligently monitor our trains and infrastructure to identify potential hazards, and we invest approximately $1 billion annually into maintaining our infrastructure. We’re also building and deploying new technologies to keep our tracks and trains safer.

To prepare for the rare instance of a significant incident, we work with thousands of first responders across our network every year, providing training through NS’s Operation Awareness & Response (OAR). These training opportunities include hands-on experience utilizing a dedicated safety train, with a locomotive, specially equipped classroom box cars, and several specially equipped tanks cars. We are also building a new training center for first responders and beginning a local safety grant program to invest in ensuring our communities have what they need to be safe in the event of an incident.

Norfolk Southern, like all Class 1 railroads, is required by federal law to carry a variety of materials. Some of these are hazardous materials, needed by businesses to manufacture goods or products used in water treatment, for example. Rail is the safest way to move freight, and particularly hazardous materials. Data from the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) shows that moving hazardous materials by rail is 50 times safer than by truck. The rail cars that carry these materials are built, maintained, and inspected to standards set by the FRA. These standards are built on many years of research and continued refinement to railcar designs with safety first and foremost in mind. In fact, tank car standards are getting more and more stringent every year.

Incidents involving hazardous material spills are extremely rare, but NS is prepared for them. We have a team of regional hazardous material professionals, backed up by specialized contractors that respond immediately to any incident. In addition to trainings we conduct with first responders across our network, we will soon be rolling out a new app that will enable local first responders to immediately know what materials are inside any rail car to help them know how to best respond to an incident.

At Norfolk Southern, everything starts with safety. That means taking a continuous improvement approach, so we never stop making our railroad a safer railroad.


We diligently monitor our trains and infrastructure to identify potential hazards, and we invest approximately $1 billion into maintaining our infrastructure annually. Our industry-leading engineering and mechanical teams are executing projects that enhance our inspection quality and infrastructure to provide even safer outcomes. We have developed technologies that greatly enhance our network safety, including an industry-first locomotive-mounted autonomous track inspection system. Additionally, we are making significant investments in innovation in detection systems to inspect cars and locomotives with machine vision and AI. For example, these new inspection portals are able to take 700 pictures per rail car, of a train moving at up to 60 miles per hour.


At the same time, we have increased investment in conductor onboarding and training to ensure we are building a team that continues to safely deliver for our customers.


We are committed to becoming the gold standard in safety in the rail industry.

The tracks on most of our key routes are inspected at least twice a week, and our busiest mainline routes are inspected more frequently. Norfolk Southern follows track inspection schedules that comply with, and in many cases exceed, the standards set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Inspections are supplemented by a high-tech track car that uses lasers, mechanical devices, and computers to measure track conditions, and ultrasound equipment that scans rail internally. These inspections are supplemented by high-tech autonomous mounted inspection equipment on our locomotives, with which we inspect approximately 500,000 miles of track digitally per year.

Furthermore, our Network Operations Center in Atlanta continuously monitors weather conditions that could affect operations, working with one the nation’s top weather technology companies to stay in front of potential issues related to weather.

Safety is our top priority when it comes to the design, construction, and maintenance of Norfolk Southern’s railroad bridges. With nearly 10,000 bridges that collectively span more than 300 miles, the railroad makes significant investments to keep each bridge safe for employees and the public.

I In May 2023, we announced the appointment of Atkins Nuclear Secured (ANS), to conduct an independent review of our safety-first culture and our processes and protocols. The ANS team is led by consultants who keep the Nuclear Navy safe. The nuclear industry is the gold standard for industrial safety, and we intend to set the gold standard for the railroad industry.

Norfolk Southern has an extensive wayside detection network deployed across our rail lines. Nearly 1,000 hot bearing detectors – just one of the main types of detectors along our network – inspect wheel bearings on rail cars as they pass. Wayside detectors are placed on or near our tracks to detect potential defects on trains. These detectors send data to our train crews and our monitoring center to make decisions in the event a defect is possibly identified so the train can be stopped or inspected.  The Network Operations Center is connected with our train crews and can issue orders to stop or slow trains depending on the specific situation.

We recognize that we have a responsibility, and we have committed to doing what’s right for the residents of East Palestine, no matter how long it takes. Our site remediation efforts are progressing, and we continue to coordinate closely with local, state, and federal officials on a long-term plan. In addition to environmental remediation, our efforts to make things right include assistance programs for people and businesses disrupted by the derailment, charitable investments, and broader safety and operational enhancements that will make what happened in East Palestine less likely to occur in the future. We’re staying in East Palestine as long as it takes. As we move forward, we will continue to listen to the community, and we will continue our work to help the area recover and thrive. Visit to learn more.

A culture of safety starts and ends with our people. On day one at our Training Center in McDonough, GA, new employees are instructed on safe operations and practices on the railroad. Senior operations and safety leaders regularly meet with our Local Safety Service Committees (LSSC), made up of front-line railroaders, to enhance communication from top to bottom, identify hazards, and continue to support safe operations.

Norfolk Southern values the contributions of all its employees and is committed to continuing to invest in them.  We invest in our workforce in many ways, but here are several of the main areas:

Compensation – Norfolk Southern provides employees with top tier compensation. Specifically, employees received:

  1. A historic 24% wage increase over the course of the five-year contract period (2020-2024)
  2. In addition to these historic wage increases, employees also received a $1,000 bonus in recognition of their service each year of the contract (2020-2024)
  3. Upon implementation of the new Agreements, employees received retroactive wages and service recognition bonuses earned during the contract period before the agreement was settled. On average, employees received approximately $11,000

Health and Welfare – Norfolk Southern invests in our employees’ health and welfare and has one of the best benefits packages in the United States. Employees are afforded:

  1. Low Co-Pays
  2. Low individual and family deductibles
  3. Compensated Sick Leave (First Class I railroad to provide all crafts with this benefit)

Quality of Life – Norfolk Southern is committed to enhancing the overall quality of life of our employees.  The railroad operates 24/7 and we are partnering with our employees to put more predictability around their work schedule and promote work/life balance.

Report suspicious activities and potentially hazardous situations to Norfolk Southern police at 800-453-2530 or to your local police department. You also can report activity by joining Protect the Line, NS’ citizen reporting program. Members of this community awareness initiative watch for potential security or safety problems and report issues directly to NS police. Citizens also can make reports to

What To Report:
o Objects left on or near railroad tracks and infrastructure
o Mechanical issues with moving trains, such as sparks or smoke
o Equipment issues, such as loose banding, leaning trailers or rail cars, and open loaded rail cars, truck trailers, or containers
o Vandalism
o Suspicious activities or individuals
o Trespassing on railroad property, including fishing, walking, jogging, bicycling, or hunting on tracks

When providing information, report the train’s location (address or nearest cross street) and direction of travel. If people are involved, note their clothing and physical appearance.

To report a railroad crossing-signal problem, call 800-946-4744 to reach Norfolk Southern’s 24-hour Police Department line, or call 911. The NS emergency number is on the Emergency Notification System sign at every railroad crossing. Provide the name of the street or roadway, the city, and if possible, the six-digit DOT crossing identification number located on the sign.

Crossing signals are designed to be fail-safe devices, meaning that if a malfunction occurs, the lights will flash, and the gates will remain in the lowered position to provide maximum protection to motorists. Never drive around lowered gates. It’s against the law, and it’s dangerous. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately exit the vehicle, move away from the track, and call NS Police or 911. Never try to flag down a train.

The railroad provides a critical service to our nation’s supply chain and is the most sustainable way to move freight. Here are just a few examples of our commitment to sustainability:

• Norfolk Southern can eliminate 7 million highway miles for our transportation & logistics partners, moving those containers by train instead, allowing them to save fuel for their customers, reducing highway congestion for our communities, and eliminating 41,000 tons in greenhouse gas emissions via our intermodal network.
• We have set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 42% by 2034.
• We are converting our older DC traction locomotives to AC traction locomotives to increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. It is the ultimate recycling effort.
• Replacing diesel-powered cranes at intermodal terminals with hybrid or full-electric models to reduce carbon emissions.
• Learn more about all we are doing to drive sustainability here.

Everything Starts with Safety

Rail is the safest and most sustainable way to transport goods across land. Every day, NS takes meaningful action to make our railroad even safer.

Norfolk Southern everything starts with safety

Training and Equipping First Responders

To support the communities we serve, we’re training local first responders on railroad safety and specific protocols. The Operation Awareness & Response (OAR) program provides hands-on experience utilizing a dedicated safety train, 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.

Norfolk Southern training first responders on rail safety

Driving Safety on the Ground Across our Network

Critical to NS’ culture of safety are our local team members on the ground throughout our network. Our Local Safety Service Committees (LSSCs) are a group of management and craft employees focused on safety at the local level. There are currently 59 LSSCs acting as our eyes and ears in yards and along our rails, to improve communication from top to bottom, identify hazards, and mitigate safety conditions to support safe operations.

Driving Rail Safety on the ground

Committed to Your Community

We are dedicated to supporting the communities where we live and operate by engaging with residents, working with local leaders, and leading initiatives to keep cities and towns across America safe and thriving.

Norfolk Southern is committed to communities

Safe Bridges

Norfolk Southern’s bridge engineers and certified inspectors regularly monitor nearly 10,000 steel, timber, and stone or concrete bridges that span some 300 miles of our network. We meet and exceed federal inspection standards.

Safe Tracks

Norfolk Southern invests roughly $2 billion annually to promote safe and efficient operations, modernize technology, and support economic growth across our network. In 2022, we installed over 540 track miles of new rail, surfaced 4,155 miles of track, and replaced 2.2 million crossties.

Report a Bridge Issue

If you would like to receive information or report a safety issue about a railroad bridge, fill out the Report a Concern form. An NS representative will contact you.

Contact Community Affairs

Across our rail network, the mission of the Community Affairs team is to build and strengthen relationships with the communities we serve. Let us know how we can help your community thrive.