October 25, 2014

GAO issues report on rail safety

FRA_logo_wordsRailroad accidents pose significant safety risks to railroads, their employees, passengers, and the public.

FRA oversees safety of the nation’s railroads. In light of three high profile accidents in 2012 involving fatalities or hazardous materials, GAO was asked to review FRA’s oversight processes and the challenges to railroad safety.

This report examines (1) the overall framework that FRA, the states, and the railroads use to ensure rail safety; (2) the extent to which FRA and the railroads assess safety risks and allocate resources to address those risks; and (3) what challenges, if any, exist to FRA’s current safety framework, and what ongoing and emerging issues FRA faces.

GAO analyzed FRA accident and incident data, reviewed the analytical models FRA uses to incorporate risk into its inspection program, and interviewed FRA headquarters and field safety staff, officials from the seven largest freight railroads and 11 smaller railroads, industry associations and seven rail labor organizations.

Click here to view the report.