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The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has completed the pilot phase of its project to assess the safety culture in the short-line and regional railroad industry, the institute announced yesterday.Ongoing efforts to educate, train and conduct research on safety for the industry will be influenced by the assessments conducted during the pilot phase, SLSI officials said in a press release."We now have a tried and tested, comprehensive program for evaluating and offering guidance to short lines on safety culture on their railroads," said SLSI Executive Director Ron Hynes. "Results generated from the pilot program provided a road map for progress and our team now has a solid understanding of the path forward."Under the pilot, the SLSI developed tools and processes for measuring and evaluating 10 core safety culture elements on railroads; created and implemented processes for sharing those results with railroad management; created a training program; completed six assessments on industry-representative railroads; and developed a plan for future training, research and education.The assessments yielded several concerns. Among issues the institute will address as a result include:• Although "safety first" is a stated mission at some levels, safety in practice can be weaker in day-to-day operations. Management must visibly and consistently support safety practices for a greater result.• Safety practices don't always match documented safety plans. Managers should write a safety plan that reflects employees in everyday operations.Seven assessments were conducted since the pilot ended and five more are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Several additional railroads are planning for an assessment to be conducted."We have been picking up two assessments each month, with assessments currently being scheduled into 2017," said Hynes.The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), with participation of the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Research and Development, created the SLSI to provide education, training and research on safety and the safety culture at short lines and regionals. The Volpe Transportation Center has provided evaluation support. Congress provided $500,000 to develop the pilot program in 2015, followed by an additional $2 million in 2016 to continue the institute's work.
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