FRA Issues New Rule to Achieve Next Level Passenger Rail Safety

Union Pacific Train at Crossing in Berkeley, CA., © Paul Sullivan (License)

A new final rule has been issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to establish a proactive approach to passenger rail safety. The rule requires passenger railroads to actively seek and identify potential safety hazards and prevent them from escalating; essentially reducing the risk of incidents, injuries or fatalities.

Proactive Approach to Passenger Rail

Approaching safety risks in such a manner across all operations and works will help passenger railroads achieve the utmost safety.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said:

“Operating a railroad safely requires more than simply not having an incident – it demands looking for problems before they cause an injury or a fatality.

“This new rule is a huge step in the right direction to make passenger rail service even safer.”

The new System Safety Program (SSP) calls for passenger railroads to execute a strict and measurable safety culture. This will include identifying potential safety hazards, working to reduce and eliminate those hazards and recording and demonstrating how they will comply with FRA regulations.

FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg states:

“Safety has to be a consistent priority, and that means identifying problems before they escalate and turn into an incident. This new rule will help passenger railroads achieve the next generation of rail safety.”

Robert C. Lauby, Chief Safety Officer at FRA, explains:

“The System Safety Program rule includes proactive hazard analysis as a standard approach to identifying and addressing significant safety issues. I believe that this approach will be key for the next level of safety.”

Building on the current regulations, the new rule will add current and up-to-date regulations with appropriate measures to improve on the existing safety foundations. The FRA will provide support and assistance to help implement safety measures, marking a turning point in the industry; from a reactive to proactive environment.

FRA Passenger Rail Safety Director Dan Knote concluded:

“The System Safety Program rule has been a long time in the making, but it’s been worth the wait. The Passenger Rail Division at FRA will provide guidance to all passenger railroads as they embark in this exciting and life-saving initiative.”

The final rule will come into play 60 days from the date of its publication. All passenger railroads are expected to have a meeting to discuss the rule and the SSP plans within eight months of its publishing.

Read the rule here.

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