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American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Chairman Ed McKechnie yesterday announced JR Sampson will serve a key role in helping to create and coordinate a pilot project for a new Short Line Safety Institute.A former vice president of safety and rules for OmniTRAX Inc. and ASLRRA Safety Professional of the Year, Sampson will head up an initial assignment in coordination with the ASLRRA, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), University of Connecticut and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. The FRA has provided a grant to help form the institute.Sampson will lead the creation of a training module and selection and training of safety assessment professionals."This will be a critical step toward the longer-range goal of developing a comprehensive industrywide safety culture and safety compliance assessment program that will serve as the core of the Short Line Safety Institute," ASLRRA officials said in a press release.The institute is the result of a proposal the association presented to U.S. Department of Transportation in January as a step toward improving safety for crude-by-rail shipments. The institute will be charged with enhancing and improving safety for regionals and short lines, and will be dedicated to making an industry transition to a stronger safety culture based on both compliance with and commitment to rules."The Safety Institute is a top-line priority for ASLRRA and reflects the short-line industry’s dedication and leadership on an issue of critical importance to communities, shippers and railroads," said McKechnie.