SLSI names Executive Director; selects Advisory Board, Board of Directors

Written by Carolina Worrell
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The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has selected Ron Hynes as Executive Director to “advance its mission of providing the leadership to enhance the safety culture and safety conformance of short line and regional railroads,” the organization announced on Dec. 14, 2015.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) developed the SLSI under a pilot program in 2015 funded by a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). It began as a stand-alone operation in October 2015. The organization will “heighten the intensity of the safety focus and involvement of short line and regional railroads and their management by combining ongoing assessments, feedback, and communication; identifying opportunities regarding safety; and sharing best practices,” ASLRRA says.

Hynes brings more than 40 years of railroad experience to the Executive Director position, beginning his career with the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. He has served in a variety of rail industry positions including the National Transportation Safety Board, where he oversaw railroad, pipeline, and hazardous materials investigations; the Federal Transit Administration where he led a variety of safety research projects; and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) where he provided policy vision and direction for the development of the National Rail Plan, and evaluated and recommended TIGER grant selections. Most recently, Hynes served as FRA’s Director, Office of Technical Oversight where he provided leadership to twelve technical divisions and served as Chair of the FRA’s Safety Board.

“Ron brings the breadth of experience we were seeking in this position,” said Linda Darr, President of ASLRRA. “His most recent experience leading FRA’s technical division involving rail safety and the surrounding culture necessary to increase safety performance will enable Ron to quickly make an impact and guide the next steps of the institute.”

“Ron’s career has uniquely prepared him for this position,” said Ed McKechnie, Chairman of ASLRRA. “Beginning his career with a short line railroad, gaining experience in the organizations that regulate our industry—particularly around safety, and his depth of knowledge about the rail industry in both passenger and freight rail assignments will enable him to provide the necessary guidance to achieve the institute’s goals.”

“My experience over my career has always been led by a commitment to safety improvement,” explained Hynes. “The SLSI will bring value as a safety improvement resource to the railroad industry and ASLRRA’s nearly 500 short line members specifically. I look forward to guiding this effort.”

Hynes will join SLSI on Jan. 4, 2016.

Additionally, SLSI announced the appointment of its Board of Directors and Advisory Board, which will be “instrumental in framing the work and the implementation of the SLSI, and will rapidly move the organization from pilot to full implementation,” ASLRRA says.

The Board of Directors will ensure that the vision, mission and strategic goals of SLSI are met. They will develop processes by which assessments, education, training and research concerning safety culture will be supplied to the short line and regional railroads.

The seven board positions will be held by Linda Darr, ASLRRA; Janet Gilbert, Fletcher & Sippel LLC; Ron Hynes, SLSI; Rose Lang-Poston, AON Risk Services; Judy Petry, Farmrail; Daniel R. Sabin, Iowa Northern Railroad; and Gary Vaughn, Watco Companies.

The Advisory Board will serve SLSI by providing advice and counsel to the SLSI Board of Directors and the SLSI’s Executive Director regarding effecting safety culture changes in an organization; change management; risk assessment and management; and other safety related safety experiences to address improving the safety culture on short line and regional railroads, ASLRRA says.

“The members of the Advisory Board have been chosen from among safety experts from short line and regional railroads. Class I railroads that have established safety culture programs, experts who have established safety culture change programs, academics versed in human factor issues, and industry thought leaders,” Darr said. “The Advisory Board will be instrumental in guiding the successful standup and ongoing direction of the SLSI.”

Advisory Board members include: Chuck Baker—Partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell

David A. Brown—Chief Operating Officer, Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.

Karen Folino—Global Commercial Leader, GE Transportation

Mitchell Harris—Director Safety, Training & Rules Compliance, Rio Grande Pacific Corporation

Robert Grimalia—VP of Safety and Environment, Union Pacific, Retired

Professor David Hofmann—Hugh L. McColl Distinguished Professor and Area Chair of Organizational Behavior, University of North Carolina

Mike Lowenger—VP of Operations and Regulatory Affairs, Railway Association of Canada

Alan Maples—President, Everett Railroad Company

Tom Murta—Assistant Vice President of Operations Compliance, CSX Transportation

Jonathan D. Thomas—Sr. Director, Research and Safety Management Solutions Group, National Safety Council

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