USA: The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded grants of $250 000 to the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association and $100 000 to the University of Connecticut to support the development of a Short Line Safety Institute.

SLSI is intended to help mitigate the risks associated with shipping hazardous materials by rail, working to improve the culture of safety within the short line and regional railway industry. Over 550 short line and regional railways operate more than 80 000 km of track across all states except Hawaii, totalling one third of the national network and moving one in four wagons. However, FRA says many of these operators lack the resources to carry out robust safety training to the same extent as the large Class I railways.

SLSI assessors will visit member railways to assess their safety culture and compliance with federal standards, and to provide safety education, training and development for managers and employees.

‘Although the short line industry has an excellent safety record overall, we owe it to the public and the industry to drive continuous safety improvement,’ said FRA Administrator Joseph C Szabo. ‘These grants are a first step in assisting the industry to further identify and contain risks.’