Rail Awards – Gold

Award: Rail Safety, Commuter/Intercity Rail

MTA Metro-North, New York

Metro-North Railroad spearheaded a transformation through the application of innovative data management principles to its confidential close-call reporting system (C³RS). C³RS. Historically, the reporting system involved a manual and repetitive process that involved “double-handling” data—receiving it and then entering it multiple times into Excel sheets or even handwritten notes. The solution was found in automating data processing through Python scripting and making strategic use of the XML data from NASA. This innovation enabled rapid coding and categorization of C³RS reports, significantly enhancing analytical capacity and the ability to respond more rapidly. With these advanced tools, reports were processed at an unprecedented pace, doubling the number of reports reviewed per meeting from an average of fifteen to over forty. This improved efficiency addressed the existing backlog within six months and set a new standard for real-time C³RS data analysis. This initiative played a crucial role in improving the implementation of the Safety Management System.

Award: Rail Safety, Heavy Rail

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington D.C.

The Department of Rail Transportation and the Department of Safety have developed a trial program to respond differently to station overruns. The program is multifaceted. It introduces ‘Just Culture’ principles to front-line employees, which are intended to treat employees more fairly. It also includes a more proportionate Drug and Alcohol testing process and seeks to identify and differentiate between errors and deliberate acts during the safety investigation process. The trial aims to build trust and improve safety, which will, in turn, improve voluntary reporting of safety hazards, supporting Metro’s Agency Safety Plan and the implementation of a Safety Management System.

Award:  Rail Safety, Heavy Rail

Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Oakland, California

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) established a fire life safety (FLS) program to improve the agency’s safety culture. The program addresses the areas of inspections, training and exercises, and fire prevention support. The program has resulted in improvements in emergency response compliance, equipment operability, and fewer station inspections deficiencies. Every BART facility is assessed each year to identify hazards and formulate appropriate mitigations.

Another outcome of the program is an improvement in the relationships between BART, law enforcement and fire fighters. In 2022, over 600 first responders attended 61 training and familiarization events: including 5 full scale exercises and 6 tabletop exercises. The FLS program is modeled on the safety management system framework. Through inspection, education, and communication, the FLS program has improved BART’s ability to identify hazards. By centralizing FLS activities, other transit systems can benefit by promoting a fire safe culture and improving fire department-related incident outcomes.

Award:  Rail Security, Light Rail/Streetcar

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

The SEPTA Transit Police implemented an innovative recruitment and retention strategy, marking a significant breakthrough in police officer acquisition and retention. Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide social unrest, police departments grappled with an exodus of officers and a decline in new recruits, leading to heightened safety concerns. Between 2019 and 2023, the SEPTA Transit Police witnessed a concerning trend of eighty-four police officer resignations, significantly impacting the safety and effectiveness of the police department. In 2023, a total of forty-eight officers were hired—a figure matching the combined hiring numbers from 2020, 2021, and 2022. The program has also led to the hiring of non-sworn personnel who perform as video specialists “patrolling” the system via SEPTA’s CCTV cameras. Data analysists were also hired to formulate a data driven approach to police deployment. The strategic shift in recruitment and retention efforts underscores a proactive response to the challenges facing law enforcement agencies in the current socio-political climate, ensuring the continued safety and security of transit environments served by SEPTA.

Award:  Rail Security, Light Rail/Streetcar

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (Tri-Met)

TriMet championed a sweeping approach to the complex issues threatening rail security. Three steps were  identified in formulating the strategic, programmatic response: development of a comprehensive issue statement, establishment the guiding framework, set path forward: Four thematic workgroups were established: passenger and public Conduct: evaluating current rules for using transit/and enforcement of laws/codes/exclusions, system condition: evaluating and addressing state of cleanliness of passenger facilities, revenue vehicles, and right-of-way; support matters supporting employees through enhanced employee assistance and adjusting Standard Operating Procedures to reflect current environment, external affairs: identifying key relationships with public and private partners; working together to ensure efficient response to social, infrastructure, and security issues; and reviewing/updating third-party agreements. Tri-Met not only enhanced the safety and reliability of their transit services but also contributed to the broader well-being of their communities.

Award:  Rail Emergency Management, Heavy Rail

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Police Department (MARTA) developed an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program to enhance event security and employee and passenger safety during special events, full-scale exercises, and construction projects. This initiative focuses on enhanced situational awareness, response capabilities, and overall security during small, medium, and large-scale events and critical transit operations. Using the UAS provides the MARTA Police Department with timely, high-quality video of locations that may be difficult to access during special events. The high-quality video feed is accessible from the MARTA emergency operations center and the mobile command center. The UAS program evaluates its impact on mitigating security threats and improving operational efficiency during special events by comparing key performance indicators, such as response times, incident detection rates, coverage area, and overall security posture. The ongoing data analysis allows for assessing sustained reductions in security incidents and vulnerabilities over time.

Award:  Rail Emergency Management, Commuter/Intercity Rail

MTA Metro-North Railroad, New York

In response to climate change’s evolving challenges and an increase in weather-related events, Metro-North Railroad has embarked on a comprehensive journey to redefine its Emergency Management Task Force processes and bolster system resilience. This initiative marries organizational changes, advanced technological solutions, strategic infrastructure enhancements, and broad collaborative efforts, setting a new standard for a safer, more reliable transit future. The Task Force enhancements and teamwork enabled the railroad to withstand significant weather-related incidents that had the impact of substantially disrupt operations, contributing to record On-Time Performance (OTP) in 2023 through February 2024. In February, Metro-North Railroad closed out the month with the highest on-time performance in our 41-year history, with 99.3% of trains arriving at their destination on time.

Rail Awards – Certificates of Merit

Award:  Rail Safety, Commuter/Intercity Rail

MTA Long Island Railroad, New York

The Long Island Rail Road’s Transportation Department developed a Risk Mitigation Program (RMP) as a proactive process designed to get ahead of trends or potential risks, reduce operational incidents, and employee injuries. The RMP can be replicated on other railroads utilizing existing staff members, with minimal financial cost. All their processes have been developed in-house. Although the plan is centered on operating rule compliance, the key to the plan is communication. Program success is based on following structured actions, but also on embracing the fluidity of their content and communication methods.

Award:  Rail Safety, Commuter/Intercity Rail

Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) Metrolink

Metrolink implemented a multi-pronged, risk-based approach to address system hazards using interactive risk tools that make up the heart of Metrolink’s Safety Management System (SMS). These tools are key to implementing an effective SMS utilizing a data-driven, risk-based approach. Risks can be quantified, categorized, and prioritized using these applications, and this approach has produced grant-funding and research-partnership opportunities for Metrolink to evaluate hypotheses regarding deployment of AI-based tools.

Award:  Rail Security, Heavy Rail

MTA New York City Transit

For the past five years, a collaborative effort between the SPEED Unit, Track Engineering, and Signal Engineering has successfully increased subway speeds throughout the system. Data shows this “civil speed program” has significantly improved on-time performance and reduced travel times between stations. The program focuses on updating speed limits to reflect modern safety and comfort standards. Additionally, adjustments are made to speed control signals to allow smoother operation at these new limits. While these upgrades are still important for long-term reliability and ensure the infrastructure remains in a state of good repair, “SPEED unit-style” modifications can be done in the meantime. These focus on maximizing the existing system’s capacity, essentially “bridging the gap” until full upgrades are made possible through capital work.

Award: Rail Security, Commuter/Intercity Rail

Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) Metrolink

To improve safety and security operations, Metrolink is evaluating the use of AI-capable CCTV cameras and intrusion detection systems to identify and respond to issues such as encampments of unhoused individuals encroaching upon the right-of-way, signal system vandalism, wire theft, and trespassing. These cameras serve as a prototype intrusion detection system for identifying vehicles, trespassers, and other large objects or debris on the right of way (ROW) and at grade crossings. This pilot program will seek to inform the industry of the feasibility and process to integrate AI-capable mobile CCTV cameras and intrusion detection systems into PTC.

Award:  Rail Emergency Management, Commuter/Intercity Rail

Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) Metrolink

In 2023 Metrolink created a new department of Emergency Management and hired its first full time emergency manager. The program’s first focus was to partner with the primary five counites Metrolink services in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura. Through this partnership, Metrolink has successfully provided training theory and real-world experiences to key-stakeholders and collaborated with local, state, and federal police, fire, and emergency management personnel. Through tabletop drills, hazmat and chemical releases, tropical storms, and earthquakes, the lessons learned and shared will provide a clear focus and a more comprehensive understanding of system readiness to manage future events like the upcoming 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

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