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Five current and former BNSF Railway Co. employees recently received the Amtrak Champion Award for organizing and executing a community safety blitz in the Bakken Shale region in North Dakota and Montana.The award recognizes non-Amtrak employees who successfully completed a project, implemented a program or made a contribution that significantly preserves, expands or enhances passenger-rail safety or quality.The winners are Tom Micek and Roy Harper, both field safety support managers; Paula Thomas, a field safety support coordinator; Rick Flink, who recently retired from BNSF; and Cheri Bonebrake, a former employee who now works at the Federal Railroad Administration.Their 2012 project focused on raising community awareness of the importance of grade-crossing safety in the booming oil and gas region, where rail and road traffic have increased significantly because of drilling activities.Working in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver groups from North Dakota and Montana, the employees developed an action plan that included public service announcements aimed at truck drivers and oil company personnel; billboards stressing crossing safety; Operation Lifesaver presentations for oil companies and associates; "Officer on the Train" events; and a "Bakken Basin Safety Blitz" that was held last year."The safety blitz accomplished a safer work environment with the potential to reduce the number of near misses and truck/train collisions for Amtrak's employees and passengers in that area," said Mark Schulze, BNSF's vice president of safety, training and operations support, in an item posted on the "BNSF News" web page. "We are proud of these employees and the work they have done to improve safety in the Bakken region."