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Association of American Railroads Celebrates Industry’s Commitment to Safety


Washington, D.C., April 24, 2013 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today recognized the industry’s overall safety achievements by highlighting best safety practices accomplishments at the Railroad Safety Leadership Forum, in Chicago, Il. The focus of the forum is to acknowledge railroad team achievements in personal safety and injury prevention and provide a venue to share best practices.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), 2012 was the safest year on record, breaking the record for 2011, with improvements in causality, accident, and grade-crossing rates. Compared to 2011, the 2012 train accident rate per million train miles was down 19 percent, the employee casualty rate was down 9 percent, and the grade collision rate was down 8 percent.

FRA data shows that from 1980 to 2012 the U.S. train accident rate fell 80 percent and the U.S. rail employee injury rate fell 85 percent. Since 2000, the declines have been 45 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Train collisions per million train-miles have dropped 87 percent since 1980 and 36 percent since 2000.

"The dedication and hard work of our employees make rail the safest mode of transportation today,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “It is the industry's number one priority to invest and implement new safety technologies, as well as provide the necessary employee safety training, so that rail transportation gets safer every year. Our goal is to ensure the safety of our employees and the surrounding environment." 

The 2013 Safety Forum participants are as follows:

Amtrak: Southwest Division Cross-Functional Team

The team from Amtrak’s Southwest Division worked for over a year to evaluate the risk of injury to passengers and employees due to excess carry-on luggage on its Pacific Surfliner trains. The team conducted research and coordinated with many departments within Amtrak and produced recommendations leading to modifications to 38 cars of the Surfliner fleet. Changes included relocating ADA seats, installing additional luggage racks and moving bicycle storage locations. New changes in policies and procedures to match these new physical improvements also were put into effect. The result is a more than 60 percent reduction in risk of injury to employees and passengers.

Anacostia and Pacific: ACE Team

The Anacostia and Pacific safety program is based on an employee driven and management supported people based safety process (PBS).  The process involved training all employees in personal responsibility, behavioral based safety concepts, peer observations, and coaching. Policies and practices are being developed and implemented throughout the A & P railroad network to help extinguish unsafe work practices and model best behaviors. Nearly all of the Anacostia and Pacific’s railroads have achieved their best safety performance since implementing this new approach to safety over the last three years.

BNSF Railway: CYPHER (Cherokee Yard Process of Human Error Removal)

The CYPHER team established and manages a peer-led program that focuses on a proactive approach to addressing safety using the Behavioral Accident Prevention Process, a peer-to-peer observation and feedback process designed to encourage safe and positive behaviors in the workplace. The core principle of this team is to catch peers doing something right and give them positive feedback and recognition. The CYPHER team maintains that if individuals have more positive conversations with peers, it allows for other conversations about at-risk behavior that is non-judgmental and less likely to result in employee conflict. As a result of the CYPHER team efforts, the work group at Tulsa has remained injury-free for more than 550 days.

CN: Michigan Division Excellence in Safety, 2012

CN’s Michigan Division developed a program of strong leadership and commitment to safety by following the principals of CN’s Safety Management System that includes a visible leader coaching employees and encouraging employee involvement in safety committees and mentoring new hires. This has resulted in a dramatic improvement in their safety performance. In 2012, the Michigan Division achieved a significant reduction in both FRA reportable accidents and FRA reportable injuries. The Michigan Division ended 2012 with a 0.54 FRA accident ratio; a 75 percent improvement from the previous year. The Division also ended the year with a 1.22 FRA injury ratio; a 43 percent improvement from the previous year.

CP: Thief River Falls Terminal

The Thief River Falls Terminal (Minnesota) has not had a significant incident or FRA reportable injury in more than 11 years. With more than 70 train and engine employees, this significant safety performance can be attributed to the well-established culture within the Terminal that each employee is accountable and responsible for their personal safety and the safety of their co-workers. A diverse set of processes such as peer observations, coaching, and mentoring new hires has driven performance and has supported the long held employee belief that work can be completed with both efficiency and safety.

CSX: Locomotive Cab Committee

The Locomotive Cab Committee is a cross-functional group composed of representatives from labor, mechanical, and safety departments. The group’s mission is to provide a safe and comfortable locomotive that meets customer commitments and employee expectations. On a quarterly basis, the committee performs field trips to various locomotive shops across CSX to validate that the team’s projects are being delivered. Examples of recent success projects include enhancements to cab door security, seats, cab cleanliness, improvements to electric hand brakes, and other improvements to increase crew comfort and safety.

Iowa Pacific: West Texas & Lubbock’s “Pursuit of a Higher Standard”

Iowa Pacific celebrates its “Pursuit of a Higher Standard” program by its West Texas & Lubbock team (WTLC). Going beyond the FRA requirements, this enhanced safety program seeks to stress individual and shared responsibility for safety, look for emerging safety issues to address, enhance employee training programs, and focus on communication, coaching and mentoring. Since the program began in September 2011, the WTLC team results have been dramatic: an 80 percent reduction in employee injuries, a 60 percent reduction in human factor events, and an employee shared sense of accomplishment.

Kansas City Southern: KCS Operation Lifesaver Team

KCS is particularly proud of the safety achievements of its Operation Lifesaver Program (OL). KCS is a staunch supporter of OL at the state and national levels, working to increase grade crossing safety awareness, form more community outreach and law enforcement initiatives, and deliver superior education offerings to support grade collision and trespass prevention. This year, KCS recognizes five of its most exemplary OL volunteers for their dedication to railroad safety and public education. Together, they represent nearly 150 years of railroad experience and, in 2012, they performed almost one-quarter of KCS’s total OL presentations. Just this past February alone, KCS reported a 50 percent decrease in grade crossing events compared to February 2012.

Metra: Rocket House Safety Captains Team

The Safety Captain Team Program serves the Metra workforce as an autonomous group of concerned employees who oversee the safety for all employees, commuters, and the general public. The Safety Captain Teams work in cooperation with Metra management to resolve all reported safety issues and concerns.  The Safety Captains at Metra’s 47th St. Diesel Shop (nicknamed the “Rocket House”) have been instrumental in working with management to address safety hazards and mentoring their peers on the importance of safety. The team has been the driving force in leading their shop to becoming the safest locomotive repair and inspection facility within Metra. In October of 2012, they celebrated their 6th year working injury free.

Norfolk Southern: St. Louis Terminal Safety and Service Team

Norfolk Southern recognizes its St. Louis Terminal Safety and Service Committee for promoting teamwork across all operating departments and finding innovative ways to improve safety and customer service. The committee’s focus on safety is evident by the exceptional safety record for all departments within the terminal. Their proactive teamwork on leading indicators for injury and accident prevention led to their exemplary safety and service performance across the transportation, mechanical, and engineering departments. Among their many accomplishments, the committee used their safety focus and experience to develop a tool that enables employees to close doors of intermodal containers from the ground.  This enhanced safety by eliminating the risks associated with mounting and dismounting equipment. The committee also designed raised bins to store yard materials such as brake shoes and air hoses, reducing potential for slips and trips, and increasing efficiency of yard operations. 

Union Pacific: The Hooper Junction Project

In 2009, the Spokane Team (Hooper Junction Project) implemented a Total Safety Culture (TSC) initiative. TSC is a cross-craft, peer-to-peer safety process that focuses on all three sides of the safety triangle: environment, behavior and person. Using TSC principles in conjunction with other key safety initiatives, the cross-functional team of engineering, operating, and mechanical department employees has mitigated risk using innovative approaches to produce well-rounded solutions and practices. Having all employees engaged and capitalizing on pride-in-ownership of the process, the team has continued to implement ideas from employees which have proven to create a safer workplace.

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For more information contact: Holly Arthur,, 202-639-2344.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world's leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter: AAR_FreightRail or Facebook: