About the Short Line Safety Institute

The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI), a non-profit corporation, conducts safety culture assessments and is an educational, training and research source for short line and regional railroads concerning safety culture and other safety initiatives.  SLSI will heighten the intensity of the safety focus and involvement of short line and regional railroads and their management by combining ongoing assessments, feedback, communication, and recommended improvements and best practices.
  • Vision: For the short line and regional railroad industry to perform at an increasingly high level of safety.
  • Mission: To enhance the safety culture and safety performance of short line and regional railroads through meaningful and productive partnerships.

 

Timeline of the Safety Institute

The Inception

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) had identified safety culture as a top priority for the short line and regional railroad industry. The Safety Institute adopted the US Department of Transportation Safety Council’s definition of Safety culture, defined as the shared values, actions, and behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands.

 As increased media attention was paid to a series of unfortunate, and tragic accidents, members of ASLRRA’s leadership team approached the Federal Railroad Administration with a proposal supported by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Patty Murray (D-Washington), Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation respectively, Congress to create an Institute charged with assessing safety culture on short line and regional railroads. 

The new Short Line Safety Institute would:

  • Assess the safety culture and safety programs of short line and regional railroads;
  • Develop best practices and work with short lines and regional railroads to implement these practices; and
  • Aims to Improve safety culture and safety knowledge across the short line and regional railroad industry.

Toward that end the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Office of Research and Development granted $250,000 to develop a pilot project to conduct safety culture assessments of short line and regional railroads. Working with FRA, The National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe), and University of Connecticut (UCONN), ASLRRA developed a comprehensive safety culture assessment program that includes online surveys of all employees on a railroad, extensive templates to interview senior leadership, supervisors, and craft employees, an evaluation process of these assessment tools, and follow-up processes.

 

Pilot Program Begins

Guided by the vision, mission, and strategic goals the Project Team had developed, a safety culture assessment process was developed, assessors were hired and trained, and in March of 2015, the first assessment of a short line handling crude oil was completed. Another three railroads were assessed in the following two months.

At the recommendation of the team, Congress appropriated $2 million to support Phase Two which ran through 2015.  In 2015, an additional three assessments were conducted, with updated assessment protocols and processes. 

At the conclusion of 2015, the team’s recommendation to FRA to formally establish the Short Line Safety Institute was accepted.

Short Line Safety Institute Established

In late 2015, the Safety Institute was incorporated as a non-profit organization.

In 2016, Congress approved an additional $2 million to continue the work of the Safety Institute. 

Today, the SLSI continues to provide assessments, and is an educational, training and research source for short line and regional railroads concerning safety culture.