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The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has appointed Ron Hynes to serve as its first executive director, and seated its first board of directors and advisory board, the organization announced yesterday.
Hynes, who will join SLSI on Jan. 4, has more than 40 years of railroad experience. Most recently, he served as the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) director of the Office of Technical Oversight, where he led 12 technical divisions and chaired the FRA's Safety Board, according to a press release issued by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).The SLSI is being developed by the ASLRRA with the FRA, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and University of Connecticut (UCONN). Funded by an FRA grant, the institute began as a pilot program earlier this year. It became a stand-alone operation in October. As the institute's executive director, Hynes will be tasked with advancing its mission to enhance the safety culture and conformance of short line and regional railroads, ASLRRA officials said. "Ron brings the breadth of experience we were seeking in this position," said ASLRRA President Linda Darr. "His most recent experience leading Federal Railroad Administration’s technical division involving rail safety and the surrounding culture necessary to increase safety performance will enable Ron to quickly make an impact and guide the next steps of the institute."
Hynes began his railroad career with the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. His career has included stints with the National Transportation Safety Board, where he oversaw railroad, pipeline, and hazardous materials investigations; and the Federal Transit Administration, where he led a variety of safety research projects His work at the FRA included overseeing policy vision and direction for the development of the National Rail Plan. He also evaluated and recommended grant selections for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program."Ron’s career has uniquely prepared him for this position," said ASLRRA Chairman Ed McKechnie. "Beginning his career with a short line railroad, gaining experience in the organizations that regulate our industry — particularly around safety — and his depth of knowledge about the rail industry in both passenger and freight rail assignments will enable him to provide the necessary guidance to achieve the institute’s goals." Also yesterday, the institute announced its new board of directors and advisory board, which will be charged with moving the SLSI from pilot-program status to full implementation. Hynes will be joined on the board of directors by ASLRRA's Darr; Janet Gilbert, Fletcher & Sippel LLC.; Rose Lang-Poston, AON Risk Services; Judy Petry, Farmrail; Daniel Sabin, Iowa Northern Railroad; and Gary Vaughn, Watco Cos.
The SLSI's advisory board members will include Chuck Baker, partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell; David Brown, chief operating officer, Genesee & Wyoming Inc.; Karen Folino, global commercial leader, GE Transportation; Mitchell Harris, director of safety, training and rules compliance, Rio Grande Pacific Corp.; Robert Grimaila, retired vice president of safety and environment, Union Pacific Railroad; and David Hofmann, the Hugh L. McColl distinguished professor and area chair of organizational behavior, University of North Carolina.
Also serving on the SLSI's advisory board will be Mike Lowenger, VP of operations and regulatory affairs, Railway Association of Canada; Alan Maples, president, Everett Railroad Co.; Tom Murta, assistant VP of operations compliance, CSX Transportation; and Jonathan Thomas, senior director of research and safety management solutions group, National Safety Council.
The institute's advisory board will advise and counsel the board of directors and Hynes on issues such as effecting safety culture changes in an organization; change management; risk assessment and management; and other ways to improve safety culture on short-line and regional railroads.
For more information on the SLSI's history, read this feature article from the September issue of Progressive Railroading.
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