Federal Railroad Administration and Their Focus on Railroad Safety

Who is the FRA?

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is assigned with the oversight and regulation of passenger and freight rail operations on the national interconnected rail infrastructure within the United States. The mission of the FRA is to “enable the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.”

The FRA accomplishes this mission primarily through issuance, implementation, and enforcement of safety regulations, as well as selective investment in rail corridors across the country, and through research and technology development.

The FRA is also working with other agencies and rail stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies for accomplishing this. Their focus is on maintaining current rail services and infrastructure, strategically expanding, and improving the rail network to accommodate growing travel and freight demand and providing leadership in national and regional system planning and development.

What does the FRA do?

A main responsibility is the enforcement of safety regulations (i.e., speed limits and requirements for safety features such as positive train control). Much of FRA policy is created by congressional legislation. Though some non-legislative recommendations of FRA policy come from the agency’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee.  

According to Freightwaves, the agency regulates public and intercity rail services; however, it does not regulate “closed” railways that operate exclusively on private property. It also does not have regulatory authority over subways, light rail or elevated intra-city passenger rail systems that do not connect to any public rail networks.

Looking to the future

With the U.S. population and the nation’s infrastructure continuing to grow, this means the transportation systems used will need to grow as well. The NRP would like to increase the nation’s railway capacity to include 70 million more people and 2.8 billion tons more of freight within the next 25 years. The NRP also hopes for the continued improvement in rail safety.

If you would like to know more about the FRA and railroad safety, contact us today!

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