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Safety Planning and Certification

prepared by Linda Meadow and Jim Graebner

What is Safety Certification?

  • Process verifying that safety-related requirements are incorporated into the design of all rail transit projects
  • Process verifying and documenting that rail system elements have been constructed as designed
  • Written statement from Executive Director certifying that the system is safe for public use

What is the Relationship Between System Safety and Safety Certification?

  • System Safety:  Application of management and engineering principles, criteria and techniques to optimize all aspects of safety within the constraints of operational effectiveness, time, and cost throughout all phases of system life cycle.
  • Safety Certification:  Verifies compliance of safety certifiable elements "turned over" to transit agency.

How do System Safety and Safety Certification Relate to Rail Projects?

  • System Safety:  entire project life cycle from initial planning through operations
  • System Safety Program Plan (SSPP):  how the transit agency implements system safety
  • Safety Certification:  planning, design, construction, start-up
  • Safety Certification Plan:  how safety certification program is implemented — required by SSPP

What is the Role of the Federal Transit Administration?

  • FTA provides funding for rail projects
  • FTA requires state safety oversight for rail projects
  • FTA representative in the field is project management oversight contractor
  • FTA has been given authority by Congress to regulate rail transit so will play a growing role in the future

Role of State Safety Oversight Agency

  • Oversees system safety of rail projects (not otherwise regulated by Federal Railroad Administration)
  • Requires that transit agency develop System Safety and Security Program Plans
  • Requires that transit agency report unacceptable hazardous conditions and accidents
  • Conducts triennial safety audit of transit agency

What is Included in Safety Certification?

  • Fixed facilities - stations, track, guideway, yards, and shops
  • Systems - vehicles, traction power, train control, communications, track, ventilation, elevators/escalators
  • Rules and procedures
  • Training

Who has Final Authority for Safety Certification?

  • Transit agency Executive Director has final authority and responsibility for safety certification
  • Delegates agency person to manage safety certification program
  • Safety Review Committee (senior managers) reviews and approves documents

Certifiable Elements List

  • Vehicle
  • Signals
  • Communications
  • Traction Power Systems
  • Track and Structures
  • Yards and Shop
  • Stations/Parking Lots
  • Integrated Tests
  • Rules, Plans, Procedures
  • Training
  • Emergency Drills

Safety Criteria

  • Safety incorporated into design to provide safe and reliable movement of passengers throughout the rail system
  • Based on local, state, and federal codes and standars and industry practice
  • Scope - electrification, communications, track, tunnels, stations, LRT signals, traffic signals, signage

Design and Construction Checklist

  • Identify that applicable safety-related design criteria are in contract documents
  • Verify that safety-related contract requirements are constructed and installed correctly

Integrated Tests

  • Verify that systems, equipment, and facilities function properly when combined
  • Test program plan and test procedures specify which integrated tests will be performed
  • Designer, resident inspector, and operating personnel support these tests

Rules, Plans, and Procedures

  • Operating rules
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Accident investigation/reporting procedures
  • Maintenance manuals for vehicles, signals, facilities, equipment


  • Operators
  • Dispatchers
  • Maintenance personnel
  • Fire services
  • Police services
  • Emergency medical services

Emergency Drills

  • Test rail system readiness for response to emergencies
  • Simulate rail emergencies
  • Identify corrective actions
  • Safety review committee tracks corrective actions to resolution

Hazard Identification and Resolution

  • Safety hazards are identified during design, construction, testing
  • Hazards need to be eliminated or controlled
  • May require redesign (and design change notice) after item is in the field
  • Tracked to resolution by the safety review committee


  • Periodic audits of safety certification documentation are conducted
  • State safety oversight staff often participates
  • Audit team conducts on-site audits
  • Backup documentation is critical

Safety Certification Verification Report

  • Executive summary
  • Design and construction checklists
  • Integrated testing
  • Emergency drills
  • Rules, plans, and procedures
  • Training
  • Hazard identification and resolution
  • Audits

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