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In a new report, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) described the Short Line Safety Institute's (SLSI) "safety culture assessment" model to be the most comprehensive or robust approach in the U.S. rail industry's safety evaluation culture, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association announced yesterday.Since 2015, the safety institute has been conducting voluntary, non-punitive and confidential assessments of safety culture at short lines and regionals. The institute defines safety culture as shared values, actions and behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands, based on a U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council definition, according to the FRA's report."The SLSI's safety culture assessment process utilizes the most robust model, based on a review of published literature," the report's abstract states.The institute's model uses teams of two assessors and a multi-method, data-focused, site-customized and in-depth process that involves survey, observation, interview and document inventory, according to the report.SLSI's model was evaluated against merit criteria that included several methods and levels of measurement, observation and safety policy review. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center conducted the evaluation.More than 70 short lines have participated in the SLSI assessments since the program was launched."The rigorous methodology we use has proven objective and helpful to railroads that have participated, leading to an ever-stronger safety environment on short-line railroads," said SLSI Executive Director Tom Murta in a press release.SLSI officials also have learned something crucial from conducting the assessments. "The methods applied in the onsite evaluations and throughout the assessment process has identified key industry best practices, and clear direction to the institute on opportunity areas, resulting in the next wave of programs to assist short-line railroads in continuously raising the bar on safety culture," said Murta.