At the invitation of my friend John O'Neill, I enjoyed my tour and participation at the CSX Safety Train and S.W. A. T.(Swat) training for the Boston Police on Tuesday 31 March. The safety train was positioned at Beacon Park Yard where the CSX Swat Team of professionals provided three days of outstanding training to the Boston Police Swat and Bomb Squad. See attachment for photos. Several hours were devoted to each class on railroad operations and rail safety while on rail property. Info from CSX is SUMMARIZED BELOW.
The CSX “SWAT TRAIN” was needed for post 911 training to allow local S.W.A.T. teams to learn how to properly board a freight/passenger rail car. CSX’s commitment to being proactive to future threats is why the amount of resources are brought to each of these training events. CSX operates a complete S.W.A.T. team situated throughout its System. The team is known as the Rapid Response Team (RRT). Created in 2004, this mission-ready highly skilled and dedicated team members, stands ready to respond to any terrorist event involving railways throughout the nation.
Under a congressional mandate the team has full Law Enforcement powers. In addition to tactical operators it also has two full time, highly trained hazardous materials specialists. These members ensure that all team members remain qualified and proficient in a wide variety
of chemical and biological personal protective equipment and respiratory protection devices, such a (SCBA) Self Contained Breathing Apparatus. The RRT structure also includes a counter-surveillance component, a sniper/observer team, explosive detection canine team, both explosive and mechanical breaching capability, and a team medic.
CSX offers this training to a local agency, as they will most likely be the first responder to this type incident. The “SWATTRAIN” is equipped with equipment that makes for a realistic experience for attendees. Many safety precautions are in place to include a dedicated safety officer who is responsible for ensuring that all safety procedures are understood and followed, and appropriate safety gear is used. Safety briefings are conducted before every exercise and each officer is checked prior to being involved in the training.
The train consists of a locomotive, three different types of tank cars, two passenger coach cars, one bi-level passenger coach car, a sleeper car, a breaching car, and a classroom/command car equipped with HVAC and audio-visual equipment. The train is nearly 1000 feet in length. Some of the passenger cars come with explosive breaching capabilities, so members can practice window entry. The rail cars are setup to allow realistic force-on-force training using Simuniton® weapons and cartridges. This hands on capability of active shooter scenarios is paramount to create the approximate effects and stresses associated with an actual assault (i.e. the effect of someone shooting back at you).
CSX provides the SWAT Train at no cost to those agencies attending. The logistics involved include instructors (17 member minimum), police vehicles and fuel, or air travel, tactical breaching equipment and breaching tools, the SWAT trains movement to the scene, safety and personal protective equipment supplied, hydration and personal comfort supplies, class handouts and printing cost and all lodging for instructors.
John O’Neill created the Safety train concept and has built the trains by soliciting the donation of its fleet of rail cars. John recognized the need for training firefighters to deal with the three common types of rail cars used to haul hazardous materials. John, formerly a lieutenant at the Sherborn, MA fire Department was successful in assembling donations of several tank cars and rail equipment to serve as rolling classrooms for firemen training with actual rail equipment as far back as 1996.
John later founded the Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association (MCVFA)and has fielded three safety trains including the one used by CSX. John has built these trains from scratch demonstrating his unique skill and talent for designing and building these amazing tools for training out of a myriad of rail and industrial components. ACF donated thefirst car in 1996, Union Tank car and railroads soon followed. John was aided by then Conrail CEO to donate box cars for use as traveling classrooms.
Today’s Safety trains include passenger cars for specific training in emergencies with passenger trains. CSX has partnered with the Massachusetts firefighter Group and hauls the trains for free with Norfolk Southern to soon follow with its Safety Train.
I was disappointed to hear that the MBTA Police and other MassDOT personnel were unable to attend this event in Boston.