Trains, Commuters, Sandy and Decision-Making… another case for ORE cockpits.

Trains, Commuters, Sandy and Decision-Making… another case for ORE cockpits.

Nov 21st, 2012

We have been writing our last two posts in Italian, commenting on the “poor Italian risk-culture” (we were not talking about politics, but on cases like Taranto wide-spread contamination or L’Aquila earthquake sentence), but now we have another interesting subject of conversation linked to hurricane Sandy and its consequences to N.J. Trains.

Trains, Commuters, Sandy and Decision-Making... another case for ORE cockpits.

How a well balanced risk-culture would help against earthquake and flooding.

We are not going to discuss, as we do not trust “reporting scoops” in general, if the trains were actually flooded or damaged by some other hurricane-linked phenomenon; instead we are going to focus on processes telling you first how the story probably developed, then how it could have developed in a well balanced risk-culture.

1. How the story probably developed

Once upon a time a railroad network needed to build a shelter for locomotives and passenger cars.

A nice flat location was found. It was 20ft above the rivers.
No other specific siting study was commissioned and no one would blame that, as once upon a time no one was thinking about climate change and hurricanes wandering in those locations (although there were legends about an older era during which they had occurred).

Many happy years passed by and despite nothing unpleasant ever happened, some “general” studies revealed that the area could be damaged in case of some exceptional event.
No one listened.
No one prepared a Risk Assessment, Business Continuity Plan, Crisis Plans….

Then one day a hurricane started drifting towards the area.
There was a lot of pressure to prepare, to minimize damage; big concerns on Health and Safety for workers and passengers.
It was decided to stop the trains, to shelter them for later use…

Where to shelter them was not even a question: there was a shelter!
No one remembered the unpleasant descriptions of the “general” studies.
Once the trains are in the shelter, they will be safe, no questions asked.
Sandy gave an eloquent demonstration a couple days later.

2. How the story could have developed. 

ORE Risk Assessment, Business Continuity Plan, Crisis Plans

ORE Risk Assessment, Business Continuity Plan, Crisis Plans

Please rewind the tape of the prior section….play it to “No one listened”.
At that juncture start replacing with the following.

Risks were measured, integrated into strategic planning of the network to create value.

Business Continuity Plan, Crisis Plans were prepared and trained (drills), the resilience of the system, including the interdependencies to other critical infrastructures enhanced.

Then one day a hurricane started drifting towards the area.

There was a lot of pressure to prepare, to minimize damage; big concerns on Health and Safety for workers and passengers.

All the prepared Procedures, Plans, Mitigations were deployed.

Where to shelter the trains was not even a question: there was a rational plan minimizing risks.

Not only the situation was well documented, but managers had a very clear vision of the multifaceted situation through a ORE (Optimum Risk Estimates) cockpit.

Sandy passed by and decided to seek revenge somewhere else.

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Category: Consequences, Crisis management, Hazard, Optimum Risk Estimates, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management, Tolerance/Acceptability

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