WASHINGTON – May 12, 2022 – The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI)’s Safety Culture Assessments (SCAs) have improved safety culture performance on short line railroads, according to an analysis published by the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research, Development and Technology. The research paper, Implementing SLSI-Provided Opportunities Supports Safety Culture Growth, reports that railroads who have completed a second “Time 2” SCA performed by the SLSI experienced measurable overall improvement in safety culture, and in each of the ten core elements of a strong safety culture evaluated during an SCA.

“As an industry, there is no doubt that short line railroads prioritize safety. The SLSI’s Safety Culture Assessment program and the commitment of participating railroads to engage fully in understanding and improving their safety culture has led to notable improvements across the railroads that have been assessed, and then re-measured with a Time 2 evaluation,” said Tom Murta, Executive Director of the SLSI. “We recognize the advantages that strengthening safety culture has had on participating railroads, and encourage short line railroads to take advantage of an SCA, and the over 600 years of industry expertise our team has to offer.”

The study, completed by Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, analyzed measurements of the ten core elements of safety culture across ten railroads, using the benchmark (Time 1) and the Time 2 SCA reports. The findings included:

  • All ten railroads improved their overall safety culture
  •  Eight out of ten railroads had implemented most of the safety culture opportunities identified in the Time 1 SCA
  • Improvements were seen across all ten core elements assessed

The analysis noted that results can be influenced by the number of opportunities identified from the Time 1 assessment that the railroad was able to fully implement, and the complexity of the improvement suggested.

An additional factor noted in the results was how much time had elapsed between the Time 1 and Time 2 SCAs. Railroads that had more time between the two SCAs had greater success in implementing the opportunities identified.

“Just like the railroad industry, the SLSI seeks to continuously improve our programs. The results of Volpe’s analysis will guide our future work, such as developing additional tools and resources for core elements that seem more challenging for railroads to improve,” said Sam Cotton, Director of Safety Programs, SLSI.

SCAs are provided at no cost to short line railroads. More information on the process, and how to schedule is available here.

Click here for the PDF of this release.