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State Agencies Prepare for Train Derailments in Mock Exercise


​RALEIGH – Multiple state agencies are working together to prepare if there was a freight train derailment in North Carolina.

On Monday, state and federal agencies, and private industry partners gathered at the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh for a tabletop exercise that focused on how officials would respond if a train derailment occurred.  

“Our economy is reliant on a well-functioning freight rail system, and we have seen the consequences for communities and businesses when large trains derail,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Having exercises like this are critical to ensure we are all prepared to respond should a train derailment happen. We hope that North Carolina never has to experience this type of emergency, but if we do, I know our state and local officials and private partners are prepared.”

During the mock exercise, officials worked together to ensure a strong response in the event of a derailment by sharing information and evaluating existing plans. Participants were required to assess their preparedness and coordinate their agency’s respective responsibilities for managing and recovering from this kind of emergency.

Participants in Monday’s exercise included the state’s Division of Emergency Management, Department of Health and Human Services, Departments of Environmental Quality and Transportation, Federal Rail Administration, North Carolina Railroad and private industry partners. 

“Exercises like these are a critical part of our all-hazards emergency response focus,” said William Ray, director of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. “The most important thing about these tabletop exercises is to ensure that all the appropriate response agencies are communicating now so we know who should be at the table and what everyone’s role and responsibility is if we do have a freight derailment.” 

State and federal agencies frequently have tabletop exercises to prepare for different types of emergencies, including natural disasters, manmade incidents, and threats to critical infrastructure. 

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division also participated in Monday’s exercise.

“We have freight trains delivering critical goods across our state from the coast to the mountains. It was important to get everyone in the room to be as proactive as possible,” said Jason Orthner, director of the Rail Division. ​

To help plan, prepare and stay informed in the event of an emergency, go to

(Journalists: To download soundbites from officials and b-roll, click here.)​


9/19/2023 12:35 PM