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Site Notification

Site Notification

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Safety Certification for Commuter Rail Projects

Date: July 10, 2015

Project Name: Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit (CFCRT) Project – Phase 1

Abstract: Safety Certification on Phase 1 of the CFCRT Project encountered a number of issues when certifying design, construction, testing, and pre-revenue operations. The Grantee incorporated several work-arounds to support opening on-schedule.

Project Phase(s): Design, Construction, Testing, and Start-up

Category: Project Management, Safety and Security Management – Safety Certification


The Initial Operating Segment (IOS) of the CFCRT Project (also known as SunRail), or Phase 1, is a 32-mile corridor consisting of 12 stations. Phase 1 includes the purchase of seven diesel electric passenger locomotives, nine cab cars and five coaches; approximately 18-miles of additional second track being added to the existing 11-miles of double track; a new railway wayside signal and communication system; grade crossing upgrades; station platforms and canopies at all 12 stations; park-and-ride lots at seven stations; construction of a Vehicle Storage and Maintenance Facility (VSMF) and Operations Control Center (OCC); and other elements necessary to achieve project implementation. Phase 1 was progressed under the following contracts:

  • Design-Build-Maintain (DBM) – Final design and construction of the civil roadbed, mainline and yard tracks; including special track work, station platforms, VSMF, OCC, signals and train control, grade crossings and warning systems, fiber optic network and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).
  • Station Finishes No. 1 – Canopies and station amenities for seven stations, including, lighting, public address, variable message signs, closed circuit televisions, telephones and signage; roadway access and parking areas.
  • Station Finishes No. 2 – Canopies and station amenities for five stations, including, lighting, public address, variable message signs, closed circuit televisions, telephones and signage; roadway access and parking areas.
  • Locomotive Supplier – Provided seven rebuilt diesel electric locomotives for passenger service.
  • Passenger Car Supplier – Provided nine new cab cars and five new coach cars for passenger service.
  • Fare Collection Equipment – Provide ticket vending machines, ticket validators, and appropriate system control equipment.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Circular 5800.1 and the Safety and Security Management Plan (SSMP) require that safety elements are verified and certified prior to revenue service. On Phase 1 of the CFCRT Project, certification was accelerated for several elements during final testing and start-up due to the delay in completing construction, as well as the need to meet the FFGA revenue service date. The certification process was hampered by a number of issues, including staff changes and extended vacancies in safety supervisory positions and the delay in completing the Hazard Analysis. To resolve safety certification concerns, FTA and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) conducted a joint audit of the project to determine the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT’s) readiness to initiate revenue operations. FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, in conjunction with FRA and the Project Management Oversight Contractor (PMOC), performed the audit in accordance with OP-54. The audit identified serious deficiencies in the area of safety certification process as documented in the Readiness for Revenue Operations Report.

FTA’s audit team noted that safety certification of design and construction elements were not properly certified. Insufficient safety certification resulted in delay of project start-up and significant changes to already constructed elements for grade crossings and stations. In addition, several safety certifiable elements, such as traffic control devices, signage, pedestrian gates, and channeling were not completed prior to revenue service; however, work-arounds were implemented until the installation and testing of the incomplete elements could be implemented.

The Lessons:

There are several lessons learned related to the safety certification from Phase 1 of the CFCRT Project:

  • Ensure safety certification for elements outside of design and construction are specified, including methods for certification of testing, training, pre-revenue operations, emergency management, public outreach, and especially hazard management. The elements should be included in the SSMP as part of the Certified Items List (CIL).
  • The methods for ensuring safety certification of construction should be specified in the SSMP, including verification methods of photographs, inspection reports, inspection checklists, auditing percentage, etc.
  • The SSMP should specify that certification is conducted in an on-going manner, to avoid rushing certification at the end of the project. The SSMP, as well as the project schedule should detail that certification will be completed during applicable project phases (i.e., design is certified prior to construction).
  • As the project contractor(s) support the safety certification process, the applicable safety plans including the SSMP, Safety and Security Certification Plan (SSCP), Preliminary Hazard Analysis (PHA), and testing plan should be provided as part of contract documents. In addition, safety certification training and workshops should be provided to the contractor(s) to ensure the process is clear.
  • FRA inspections and oversight activities should be detailed in the SSMP, and reviewed with FTA and FRA (if applicable) for each project phase, especially prior to testing. On projects with FRA involvement, FRA should be provided the opportunity to review testing, pre-revenue and operations activities as the contractor(s) is conducting these activities so that comments and/or concerns can be immediately addressed.
  • Safety certification for operations and maintenance plans and testing activities should include approvals from applicable oversight agencies, including FRA (if applicable), FTA/PMOC, State Safety Oversight, freight railroad (if applicable), and local municipalities. Approvals should be attained from oversight agencies prior to finalizing certification.
  • Ensure major project changes and change orders are implemented into the certification process. Changes in project scope, alignment, vehicle configuration, design, and other items should be re-certified, including applicable designs.
  • Ensure the Safety section has adequate qualified staffing.


The lessons are applicable to Grantees with rail projects.

Contact Persons:

Dain Pankratz, PE
System Safety Expert
Boyd, Caton & Grant Transportation Group
943 Glenwood Station Lane, Suite 301
Charlottesville, VA 22901
(909) 560-5578

Grantee:Tawny Olore, PE
SunRail Program Management
801 SunRail Drive
Sanford, FL 32771
(407) 732-6705

Last updated: Sunday, January 31, 2016