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UDC Works to Update Railroad Emergency Response Guide

UDC Works to Update Railroad Emergency Response Guide

RAILROAD MEETING: Among the 20 participants in an Oct. 29 meeting held at the UDC office in Narrowsburg to discuss updating a 1997 Railroad Emergency Response Guide were, from the left, Melanie Boyer, Government and Public Affairs Director for Central New York Railroad; Al Henry, UDC Secretary/Treasurer from Berlin Township, PA; National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Chief Ranger Keith Winslow; and Brad Delamater, Chief Engineer of Track and Division Manager for Central New York Railroad.

UDC Works to Update Railroad
Emergency Response Guide

NARROWSBURG – The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) took the first steps toward updating a 1997 Railroad Emergency Response Guide for the Upper Delaware River Valley by bringing together Central New York Railroad representatives with federal, state, county, and local emergency management officials.

Twenty people attended the October 29 meeting in Narrowsburg to discuss how to streamline communications for any emergencies involving the railroad which runs 123 miles between Binghamton and Port Jervis in New York and Pennsylvania.

Central New York Railroad (CNYK) has operated the local freight service on that Southern Tier line since 2004 under lease from Norfolk Southern Corp. The New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway (NYSW) operates the overhead trains.

In 1997, former railroad operator Conrail had worked with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in collaboration with the UDC and National Park Service over a two-year period to publish an Emergency Response Guide for the Upper Delaware River Valley covering the territory from Port Jervis to Deposit, NY.

The booklet includes eight fold-out maps that depict railroad mile markers, control points, signal lights, clearances, cables and locked gates, access routes, obstructions, single or double track segments, and listings of relevant emergency contacts for each section.

Five hundred copies were distributed to emergency responders in five counties, with a series of orientation sessions held in Hancock, Narrowsburg, and Shohola, followed by a live locomotive safety demonstration arranged in Sparrowbush in 1998.

The August 9, 2018 derailment of 15 cars of a NYSW freight train on a flood-eroded section of tracks near Hale Eddy in the Town of Deposit, which resulted in spilling approximately 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the West Branch of the Delaware River, prompted the UDC to renew its long-term efforts to update the guide based on communication challenges experienced in that incident.

Three staff members from CNYK – Government and Public Affairs Director Melanie Boyer, Chief Engineer of Track and Division Manager Brad Delamater, and CNYR Police Investigator Jim Willis – attended the Oct. 29 meeting and expressed their willingness to work with river valley interests to improve the system.

Participating in the preliminary session were representatives from the National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Delaware River Basin Commission, UDC, New York State Police Troop F, NYS Environmental Conservation Police Region 3, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, Broome County Office of Emergency Services, Sullivan County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and Town of Deerpark Emergency Management Agency.

The UDC has started a contact list of agencies to partner on this project. Funding sources and appropriate formats using current technology are being explored.

CNYK – which has a 24-hour toll-free line at (800) 366-6979, ext. 8 to report any railroad issues or track obstructions – also offered to facilitate educational outreach through the Operation Lifesaver non-profit organization.

Programs are targeted to promote public safety at highway-rail grade crossings and along the private railroad rights-of-way through presentations and materials for such audiences as school children, community organizations, driver education classes, and professional truck and bus drivers. They also offer in-person and on-line training classes for law enforcement officers and emergency responders.

For more information on this initiative, please contact UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie at (845) 252-3022 or laurie@upperdelawarecouncil.org.