High-risk organizations operate technologies such as in rail transportation, aviation, or nuclear power, where failure/breakdown can initiate low-probability, high consequence events. The concept of High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) was developed to avoid or mitigate such events through proper management despite the inherent risk. The September 12, 2008, Chatsworth accident is an example of such events that HROs are designed to prevent. In that case a Metrolink commuter train and Union Pacific freight train collided when the Metrolink engineer failed to recognize and react to a stop signal as a result of texting, causing 25 deaths and 135 injuries. This incident directly resulted in the Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation on all Class 1 rail carriers, as well as intercity / commuter rail passenger transporters. Over the past 2 years, the USC team has observed PTC implementation at the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) / Metrolink. This paper examines how PTC can be an integral part in developing and promoting HRO principles within the rail industry based on those observations.

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