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Railroad Superintendents

Derailment Investigation Seminars Led by Industry Expert Gary Wolf Announced for 2018!

April 23-24 in Philly and May 8-9 in Los Angeles

AARS announces two Derailment Investigation Seminars to be held in 2018

Gary Wolf, President, Wolf Railway Consulting, offers valuable derailment investigation information you can’t get elsewhere. 

Railroad managers, superintendents, engineers, trainmasters and others gain a working knowledge of basic track structure, performance, causes of common problems; examination of detail on axle loads, traffic density, operating speeds; optimal learning potential with presentations on railroad turnouts, crossings with details handling spots and much more.

Participants of the two-day seminar will receive a certificate of completion along with a binder full of course content to share with colleagues.

Visit the Meetings and Seminars page to learn more.

Dates Announced for AARS 2018 Conference Events!

Industry leading speakers, real world insight, Rising Stars Awards, golf on the lake,  scotch and cigar fundraiser and more!

The following events have been scheduled during the AARS 122nd Annual Meeting at the W Lakeshore, Chicago, IL July 22-24, 2018

- Sunday, July 22, 2018 1 p.m.  AARS Rail Tour:  Tour of Indiana Harbor Belt Railway's system using new Compressed Natural Gas engines.  

- Sunday, July 22, 2018 5 p.m. AARS 122nd Annual Meeting Opening Reception and Progressive Railroading Rising Stars Award dinner.

- Monday and Tuesday, July 23-24, 2018 7 a.m. AARS 122nd Annual Meeting at the W Lakeshore

- Monday, July 23 6 p.m. Michael A. Paras Foundation Scotch Tasting and Cigar Fundraising Event at Biggs Mansion, Chicago, IL

- Tuesday, July 24, 2018 1 p.m. AARS Annual Golf Outing at the Harborside Golfcourse, Chicago, IL

Congratulations to the AARS 2017 Lantern Award Winners

On Monday, July 24, 2017, the American Association of Railroad Superintendents awarded its 2017 Lantern Awards to three award recipients. 

The AARS "Ones to Watch" Award was awarded to Jason Engle, Asst. General Foreman, BNSF and to Rob Garofolo, Terminal Supt., CSX.  

The AARS Michael A. Paras Leadership Award was awarded to Rick Webb, CEO of Watco Companies.  

Congratulations to the award recipients!

Sustained Attention Research & Training to

Reduce Human Factor Caused Train Accidents

by Ron Robusto

The railroad industry is beginning to see the benefits of the Federal Railroad Administration’s partnership with Transdev (formerly Veolia Transportation) in a recently completed research and development project on cognitive distraction and reducing major rule violations in commuter rail operations. As a result of the study’s conclusive findings, the Sustained Attention Training Program was developed by Transdev with the objective of offering training across the industry to reduce human factor caused train accidents.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers partnered with Transdev for the research portion of the project. The BLE provided thirty-six locomotive engineers who operated the locomotive simulator that is part of the FRA’s Cab Technology Integration Laboratory in Cambridge, MA. The research included testing and analyzing locomotive engineers under various scenarios. A control group of locomotive engineers was provided basic training on everything required to operate the simulator safely and effectively. A second group of locomotive engineers was provided the same basic training PLUS a short module on the science of distraction and how it affects performance.

The results were significant and meaningful for our industry. The second group performed better by a margin ranging from 7.1% to 11.2% in the various subjectively measured areas that were analyzed. The research clearly validated the effectiveness of minimal training on the science of distraction. However, we expect an even higher level of performance of locomotive engineers, as well as other safety critical employees, with a more structured and recurring training approach.

This research reveals real opportunityto improve safety in our industry. I strongly believe Transdev’s Sustained Attention Training program will make a significant and positive difference in reducing human factor caused train accidents. The training consists of four key modules: Your Safety Culture; The Science of Cognitive Distraction; Signs and Symptoms of Loss of Attentiveness; and Solutions and Strategies for Fighting Distraction. The curriculum is designed to fully engage students in all four modules and will be reinforced with additional tools and processes. We currently are piloting the training program within our company over the course of this year, and intend to roll it out and make it available to the entire rail industry in 2016.

For more information about the progress of this study and training initiative, please contact Ron Robusto, COO and VP Safety and Compliance, TransDev, at ron.robusto@transdev.com. 

This blog was authored by by Ron Robusto, Chief Operating Officer and VP Safety and Compliance- Rail Division, TransDev, and 2nd Vice President of AARS


Upcoming events

    • 09 Nov 2021
    • 8:00 AM (UTC-06:00)
    • 10 Nov 2021
    • 5:00 PM (UTC-06:00)
    • Sheraton at University City, Philadelphia, PA
    • 75


    In the interest of protecting our members in light of COVID-19 concerns and to adhere to government regulation on restrictions on groups of 50 or more, this seminar has been rescheduled to November 9-10, 2021.   If you had registered for the original 2020 dates, your registration will automatically be transferred to the new November dates.  If you must cancel due to a conflict with the new dates, please contact Carrie Foor at cfoor54@msn.com or 331-643-3369 and a credit will be issued. Thank you for your understanding as we try to make the best choices for our members during this unprecedented time.  

    Seminar DATES:  November 9-10, 2021

    This 2-day seminar will provide education regarding human factor issues related to accident causation.  The seminar is hosted in partnership between AARS and the International Association of Railway Operating Officers (IAROO).

    The first day is presented by Gary Wolf, President, Wolf Railway Consulting, the rail industry's preeminent expert on railroad accident investigation and causation. The second day is presented by Randy Jamieson, and Dr. Daniel Smilek, PhD, Principals of Atticus Consulting Group LLC. Randy has 30+ years of experience in railway operations and safety. Dr. Smilek is a leading researcher of human attention.  Together they will present the Comprehensive Attention Performance Training Program (“CAPT Program”) as outlined below.

    NOTE:  Registration is limited!  Register early to secure your spot.

    AARS and IAROO retain the right to deny registration to attendees who are not members of either organization and/or are not directly responsible for operations functions within the rail industry.  

    Registration Fee:  $749 for AARS and IAROO members, $849 for non members and includes the two-day seminar with lunch each day.  (AARS annual membership is $75.)

    AARS members register by logging in via this site.  IAROO members should select the IAROO member option after they obtain a special code for registration from IAROO.  

    Quantity Discount:  For every 5 registrants, get one registration free.  

    Questions:  Call Carrie Foor, AARS Executive Director, 331-643-3369

    Hotel:  The seminar will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia at University City, Philadelphia.  The room rate will be $179/night.  To reserve your hotel room, call the hotel directly at (215) 387-8000.  Mention you are with the American Association of Railroad Superintendents seminar room block to get the special rate.

    The hotel is just a few blocks from the 30th and Market St. station.  

    Hotel Address3549 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

    Seminar Topics:

    Day 1. Agenda – Presented by Gary Wolf

          The nature of human failure
          Overview of top human factor causes
          Statistical review of where we are in the rail industry with human failure
          The old way vs. new way of dealing with human failure
          The role of discipline in human failure accidents
          Failures of typical investigative techniques
          Looking at the organization as a source of human failure
          What is a safety culture
          Safety leadership What are the tenets of good safety leadership
          Safety Management Systems (SMS)
          Behavior Based Safety (BBS)
          Root Cause Analysis of Human Factor Accidents
          Detailed walk through for conducting investigation of human failure incidents
          The importance of rules testing and how to make good rule tests
          Tips for prevention of typical human failure derailments/incidents
          Case study Class tabletop simulation of a human factor accident investigation

    Day 2. Agenda - Presented by Randy Jamieson and Dr. Dan Smilek

    The CAPT Program consists of eleven (11) interrelated modules that build on one another to introduce and explain key aspects of the science of human attention and their underlying role as root cause of human factors-related accidents and injuries. These modules are as follows:   

     1.       Introduction to Human Attention-related Railroad Accidents

    2.       Limits of Visual Perception

    3.       Limits of Human Spatial Attention

    4.       Dangers of Operation Overload and Multitasking

    5.       Dangers of Operational Underload and Mind Wandering

    6.       The Link Between Stress and Human Attention

    7.       Worry, Rumination and Unfinished Tasks and How They Affect Attention Performance

    8.       How Habits Can be Exploited by Unusual Situations to Create Attention-related Errors

    9.       Fatigue, Nutrition, Exercise and Their Role in Attention Performance

    10.    Training Attention Control

    11.    Deliberate Practice and the Power of Intrinsic Motivation

    Feedback from Participants the CAPTÔ Program:

    “I’ve attended a lot of training programs over the years, really a lot, and this is the best training I have ever had!”

    …. Railroad Manager

    “This is not just a tool.  This is integral to better living!”

     …. Locomotive Engineer

    “Management really needs to understand the importance of this work.  There is a need to provide this education to managers so that they know how attention works”.  “

    …. Railroad Manager

    • 20 Jun 2022
    • 5:00 PM (CDT)
    • 23 Jun 2022
    • 11:00 AM (CDT)
    • Chicago, IL

    Save the date for the AARS 124th Annual Meeting, June 20-21, 2022 in Chicago right on Wacker Dr. near Michigan Ave. at the Swissotel!

    NOTE:  Due to issues related to COVID-19, the 2020-21 Annual Meeting has been canceled.

    The 2022 meeting will open with a reception on June 20 at 5:00 p.m.

    AARS will host the Progressive Railroading Rising Stars Award Dinner as part of the AARS Annual Meeting on June 20 at 6:30 p.m.

    Registration to the AARS Annual Meeting includes a ticket to the Rising Stars dinner.  For more information about the Rising Stars dinner, visit http://www.progressiverailroading.com/risingstars/about.asp

    The meeting program will continue June 21 at 8:00 a.m. and will conclude on June 22 at 11:00 a.m. 

    Registration will open in January, 2022.

    Golf Outing:  On June 22 the AARS will hold its annual golf outing to benefit the AARS Scholarship Fund.  More information to come.

    Hotel Information

    The meeting will be held in downtown Chicago at the Swissotel.  Reservation information to come.


    The agenda for the 124th Annual Meeting is to be published beginning in January, 2022.  

    Below is the agenda from the 123rd Annual Meeting in Norfolk, VA to provide you with an idea of a typical AARS Annual Meeting.  Learn more about the 2019 meeting proceedings by viewing our AARS Journal coverage of the meeting by clicking here.

    Monday, July 22

    Industry Tour of Norfolk Harbor! 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

    Tour Sponsored by:  

    5:00 pm Opening Reception and Technical Showcase

    6:30 pm Progressive Railroading Rising Stars Awards and Dinner

    Tuesday, July 23

    7:00 am Continental Breakfast and Technical Showcase sponsored by 

    8:00 am Keynote Speaker

    Jim Squires, President, CEO & Executive Chairman, Norfolk Southern

    9:00 am Break in Technical Showcase

    9:30 am Regional Perspective

    David Gooden, Division Superintendent, Norfolk Southern

    10:15 am Rising Stars Panel: Achieving Success in the Rail Industry

    Kelley Carr, Sr. Manager – Positive Train Control, Safety, Compliance & Training, Amtrak

    Scott Schiemann, Chief Engineer, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

    James Schwichtenberg, Vice President, Chief Safety Officer, CSX

    11:45 am Break in Technical Showcase 

    12:00 Annual Industry Luncheon & Lantern Awards 

    Charge to Superintendents

    Ed Harris, EVP Operations, CSX

    1:30  Onboarding a Shortline

    Stefan Loeb, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, Watco Companies

    John Rickoff – President & CEO Lake State Railway

    Mark Rosner – President & CEO Carload Express

    2:30  Break in Technical Showcase 

    3:15 pm 

    Panel Presentation: Precision Scheduled Railroading

    -          Dave Ferryman, VP Commercial & Technology, EVRAZ N.A. (confirmed)

    -          Brian Murray, Regional Superintendent, CSX

    4:15 p.m. Update on the “Railroad Renaissance” Tony Hatch, ABH Consulting

    Wednesday, July 24

    7:00 am Continental Breakfast and Technical Showcase in Great Room, 6th floor

     8:00 am   Attracting & Retaining New Employees

    Bill Fountain, Director of Recruitment, Genesee & Wyoming

    Rachael Peterson, EVP People Services, Watco Companies

    Dan MacKay, AVP Human Resources, Norfolk Southern

    9:00 a.m.  Enhancing Your Safety Culture within Your Railroad – Panel

    Darrell Snyder, VP Mechanical, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

    Clay Smith,  Manager of Safety & Training, Florida East Coast Railway

    Ken Glover, VP Safety, Genesee & Wyoming

    10:30 am Business Session

    11:00 am Adjourn

    11:30 pm Bus Loads for Annual Golf Outing, departing at 11:45 a.m.

    Bus departs  for the AARS Annual Golf Outing to benefit the Frank J. Richter Scholarship

    1:15 p.m. Shotgun Start at River Front Golf Club, Suffolk, VA

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