Office of Public Affairs,
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced new regulations governing rail inspections that will help identify rail flaws and further eliminate the risk of derailments. The new regulations require performance based inspections, a process designed to minimize rail defects that will generally result in an increase in tests performed over a designated area of track.
“Safety is our highest priority, and this new rule will make rail transportation even safer for everything from passengers and rail employees to crude oil and other freight shipments,” said Secretary Foxx.
The final rule published in today’s Federal Register strengthens existing Federal Track Safety Standards by:
The Federal Track Safety Standards require railroads to regularly inspect track conditions, and to also conduct separate rail inspections with specially equipped hi-rail motor vehicles that operate over rail tracks. This equipment employs ultrasonic technology to identify internal rail defects that could potentially lead to an accident. Data is collected in real-time.
The current rail inspection standards include a maximum number of days and tonnage that can be hauled over a stretch of track between tests. The new regulations establish internal rail flaw defect standards for each railroad while the technology used will continue to drive down the number of known rail defects over time.
“Our goal is to drive continuous safety improvement and further reduce the risk of broken rails and derailments,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “While track-caused accidents have declined by 40 percent over the past decade, these new standards will better advance the use of technology and achieve the next generation of safety.”
The final rule implements Section 403(b) of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA). FRA has now completed 30 of the approximately 42 RSIA-mandated final rules, guidance documents, model state laws, studies, and reports. Today’s final rule also builds upon decades of FRA-sponsored research focused on enhancing rail integrity, and addresses recommendations by both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.
The final rule can be viewed here.
Rail – Moving America Forward
The mission of the Federal Railroad Administration is to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.