Metrolink pioneers system safety program

March 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES — Metrolink has entered into a partnership with the University of Southern California’s engineering school to create an advanced rail system safety certification program to, in its words, “pioneer efforts to standardize system safety leadership principles.”

The program initially will be offered to Metrolink supervisors and managers. It is intended to help develop what Metrolink calls “a total safety culture where every employee understands what drives safety performance, and how to lead people in the consistent application of standard principles to achieve world-class safety.”

The University of Southern California’s engineering school has been providing aviation safety education for more than half-a-century, beginning with the U.S. Air Force in 1952.

Metrolink said that where individual railroads have individual safety programs “that focus on rules and procedures, there is no consistent system safety certification program in the railroad industry. Technological advances over the next few years — as in the federal mandate for positive train control — will create even higher levels of human technology interface, which is why it is critical that a standardized system safety curriculum be created.”

The Metrolink effort is being launched with the assistance of Jim Schultz, a former chief safety officer at the Federal Railroad Administration and later a safety officer with CSX. Schultz won high praise from the UTU and other labor organizations while at CSX for his de-emphasis on discipline and emphasis on peer review to determine causes and joint labor-management-employee cures for accidents and injuries.

The certification program will focus on human factors, safety management systems and risk identification.

Metrolink is Southern California’s regional commuter rail service that operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network.