Practices for Wayside Rail Transit Worker Protection

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, planning - safety/accidents, organisation - workforce planning


Case studies, Field studies, Interviewing, Literature reviews, Maintenance of way, Occupational safety, State of the practice, Transit operating agencies


The purpose of the synthesis was to report the state of the practice to aid transit agencies and other entities in deciding how to develop successful wayside rail track worker protection practices. The topic panel directed the consultant to conduct in-depth telephone interviews and site visits with selected transit agencies’ staffs to provide a comprehensive look at how representative agencies provide successful wayside worker safety programs, covering multiple items. The goal was to aid streetcar, light and heavy rail providers, and other stakeholders in deciding how to proceed in developing and/or revising track worker protection practices. A review of the relevant literature was conducted to identify available and relevant documents and resources drawn from the FTA, GAO, and NTSB reports; FRA regulations and APTA standards resources; as well as numerous state, regional, and local agency issued publications. Thirty-nine publications are listed. It was determined that in-depth case studies for SF-15 would provide more thorough synthesis reporting of subject areas at select agencies and be more beneficial and useful to other transit agencies than cursory synthesis survey reporting of numerous subject areas across a larger number of agencies. The transit agencies studies were part of a Track Safety Task Force formed by New York City Transit as a result of track worker fatalities to evaluate safety culture, identify deficiencies and strengths, and develop recommendations for improvement. This task force was later joined by the Toronto Transit Commission in a Track Level Safety Team and charged with further improvements for workers at track level. Other systems soon formed or reconstituted “Rules Committees.” Thus, these five transit agencies afforded the SF-15 panel with a range of modal, operational demographic, size, and historical context from which to look at proven practices and processes in implementing wayside rail track worker protection.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.