Railroads with the industry's best safety performance records were honored at the annual E.H. Harriman Awards ceremony, which also marked the industry's near century long commitment to safety and innovation with the Centennial Award.
Railroad safety performance records were set in 2011, according to the Association of American Railroads, including significant reductions achieved in both employee casualty and grade-crossing collision rates, down 12.4 percent and 4.7 percent respectively compared with 2010. The train accident rate last year was almost flat compared with the record low set in 2010, up just 0.47 percent.
Harriman winners are selected by a committee of representatives from the transportation field and are granted on the basis of the lowest casualty rates per 200,000 employee-hours worked.
The 2011 E.H. Harriman Awards winners are as follows:
• In Group A, comprising line-haul railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more, Norfolk Southern received the gold award for the 23rd year in a row. CSX Transportation won the silver award and Union Pacific the bronze award.
• In Group B, line-haul railroads whose employees worked four to 15 million employee-hours, the gold award went to Kansas City Southern for the sixth year in a row. The silver award went to Canadian National (U.S. Operations), while the bronze went to Metra.
• Group C includes railroads whose employees worked between 250,000 and four million employee-hours. The gold award went to the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, while the Portland & Western Railroad took the silver and the Florida East Coast Railway the bronze.
• In Group S&T, for switching and terminal companies with more than 250,000 employee hours, the Union Railway took the gold, while the silver award went to the Belt Railway of Chicago and the Birmingham Southern Railroad received the bronze award.
One railroad in the various categories was honored for showing the most improvement in lowering injury rates between 2010 and 2011. Awards went to BNSF (Group A); Florida East Coast Railway (Group C) and the Belt Railway of Chicago (S&T). There was no award in Group B.
In other safety award news, Joseph Faigl, conductor with Union Pacific and Mark Sheffield, mechanical supervisor with the South Buffalo Railway Company, each received the 2011 Harold F. Hammond Award, honoring individual railroad employees who have demonstrated outstanding safety achievement during the preceding year.
Five other railroad employees also nominated for the award were honored with certificates of commendation for their work in enhancing safety:
• Matthew Lehr, switchman at BNSF
• Brian Burma, carman at Canadian Pacific
• Larry James, division safety coordinator at CSX Transportation
• Tom Usnick, locomotive engineer at Kansas City Southern
• Robert Stokes, locomotive engineer at Norfolk Southern