The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded a $1.9 million grant to the Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) for its efforts to improve rail safety, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) announced earlier this month.
The funding was provided through the federal Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act to help short lines assess and improve their safety and operations programs, according to the senators' press release.
"I worked to create the Short Line Safety Institute to improve safety training and culture at short-line railroads and help prevent the occurrence of rail disasters, such as the Lac Megantic tragedy in 2013," said Collins. "This funding will allow these railroads, many of which are small, family-owned businesses, to increase operational safety and protect workers as well as those who live and work near railroad tracks.”
The SLSI was developed by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association with the FRA, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and University of Connecticut.
About 550 short-line railroad companies operate over 50,000 miles of track, which represents about 40 percent of the national railroad network. Many short lines are small businesses that lack the resources to implement the kind of "robust" safety programs found at large railroads, the senators noted.
"This grant will help SLSI further enhance rail safety and prevent accidents and derailments through the development and implementation of better safety policies and practices," said Reed.
SLSI had received a $500,000 grant from the FRA in FY2015 federal funding for its pilot program.
To learn more about the institute's founding, read this September 2015 article in Progressive Railroading.