ROANOKE, Va. – Earlier today, members of Wythe County’s emergency management team participated in a railway safety program sponsored by Norfolk Southern. The program is part of a national effort known as “Operation Lifesaver” and is aimed at decreasing annual railway fatalities.

Representing Wythe County were the county’s emergency manager, information officer, emergency communications director and sheriff.

As part of the educational seminar, participants traveled by rail from Radford to the railway yard in Roanoke. Along the route, safety officials from Norfolk Southern spoke to local representatives about activities localities can do in order to encourage railway safety.

“I was shocked to learn that in 2013, 251 people were killed by trains,” said Jeremy Farley, Wythe County’s public information officer.

Farley added, “In the coming days, we will be doing our part to ensure county residents are reminded of just how dangerous train crossings can be.”

James Copeland, who serves as Wythe County’s director of emergency communications, said the training event allowed a great opportunity for county officials to form closer working relationships with Norfolk Southern safety officers.

According to Norfolk Southern, the safety train that hosted Thursday’s seminar has been in service all week, hosting similar events throughout the Appalachian region. The train left Cleveland, Tennessee, Monday morning and is set to reach its final destination in Lynchburg, Friday afternoon.

Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property. Their efforts have been attributed to playing a primary role in reducing the number of railway fatalities from 728 in 1981, to 251 in 2013.

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