Rail Network Safety Management Systems

The concept of Safety Management Systems (SMS) has been around for over a decade in the rail industry worldwide. For example, SMS rules in Europe, Australia, and Canada require railroads to assess the impacts on their networks due to planned operational changes and corporate decisions such as adding new hazardous materials on routes, significantly increasing their volume or network footprints, or introducing new safety technology such as Positive Train Control.

In order to quantify the impact of these changes in terms of risk, railroads must first determine their baseline (current) risks through a tiered quantitative risk assessment and then implement a tailored system to measure the future impacts to the current safety profile. Beyond meeting compliance objectives, understanding how these changes affect the railroad’s risk profile can enable better decisions about the effectiveness of safety investments and the degree to which they mitigate risk.


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