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Short Line Safety Institute: Measuring Safety Culture Growth Across Four Railroads

Document Series
Research Results
Federal Railroad Administration
Report Number
RR 21-16
Subject Safety Culture
Safety culture, safety culture model, safety culture assessment, safety culture measurement, evaluation, short line railroads, regional railroads

Research shows that a strong safety culture can influence a railroad’s safety outcomes, resulting in less frequent, less severe accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Safety Council defines safety culture as “the shared values, actions, and behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands” (Morrow, S., & Coplen, M., 2017). Since 2014, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research, Development and Technology has supported the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association in its efforts to establish a Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) focused on improving safety culture on short line and regional railroads. SLSI conducts voluntary, non-punitive, confidential Safety Culture Assessments (SCAs) for short line and regional railroads across the United States. SCAs provide a diagnostic appraisal of a railroad’s safety culture at a given point in time, with documented Opportunities for Improvement.

This research summarizes findings from a case study analysis conducted in 2021 of initial and follow-up SCA reports completed for four railroads.

Last updated: Monday, September 13, 2021