At firs,t there were only three tank cars in the “ Safety Train”, which were donated by ACF Industries, Union Tank Car Company and GATX Corporation. We were able to obtain the three most common types of cars used, DOT 111 general service car, DOT 105 high-pressure car mostly used to transport chlorine and a DOT 112 high-pressure car used to transport propane and anhydrous ammonia. In 1995, these three tank cars traveled to twelve training locations in five states.
With the success of the training program, it became evident that a classroom car was needed at most training locations, so we approached Conrail for a donation of two boxcars in which we could construct a classroom. More then we expected, Conrail donated two rebuilt and repainted boxcars.
Construction commenced on the first classroom car in late 1995, and it was completed in the summer of 1996. But during construction, our area of Conrail was sold to
CSX Transportation and we definitely had concerns about the future of the program. However, CSX soon realized the value of this unique training program and they continued Conrail’s support and commitment to training the emergency responders along their lines. Also, CSX decided that they would donate a caboose, which could be used as an office, to the “Safety Train”. The caboose was rebuilt and repainted at their shops in Huntington, West Virginia.
On September 19, 1999, Safety Train I was dedicated at Union Station, in Washington, D.C. and the classroom car was dedicated as the “Bay State”. At the ceremony there were members of Congress, representatives of the fire service, members of the Federal Railroad Administration and our friends. The dedication marked the beginning of the most successful railroad-training program in the country.
As demand for the “Safety Train” continued and increased through 2000 and 2001, we decided to assemble another set of tank cars. It didn’t take long before GE Railcar Services, Union Tank Car Company and GATX Corporation donated the necessary equipment. These corporations knew of the success of our program and realized its importance.
On July 30, 2002, Safety Train II was dedicated in West Springfield, Massachusetts, which is the home of the “Safety Train”. Our classroom car was dedicated to John R. O’Neill II, the seventeen-year-old son of the founder of the Safety Train, who died while playing football in New Jersey. Among our friends and family we joined together to start this second “Safety Train” on its journey to teach the nation’s emergency responders.
Since the dedication of “Safety Train II”, we have continued to expand our program. The necessary tank cars have been acquired for “Safety Train III” and now they are traveling as a separate unit without a classroom car.