Tag Archives: Federal Railroad Administration

USA: FRA launches updated website

17 Mar

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has today launched a redesigned website to serve as a one-stop shop to help road vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and law enforcement officers stay safe around the nation’s more than 200,000 railroad crossings and 140,000 miles of track.  The new railroad crossing portal is part of the agency’s ongoing campaign to reduce fatalities at railroad crossings and tracks to zero by building partnerships that increase education, step up enforcement, and leverage engineering.

“Railroad crossings are in nearly every city and town across America,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Preventing fatalities at crossings and on tracks takes innovative solutions, increased enforcement actions, and robust safety education efforts.  FRA’s new website is an important tool to help us achieve our goal of zero deaths at crossings and along tracks.”

FRA data show that 96% of rail-related fatalities, most of which are preventable, are the result of incidents at railroad crossings and by trespassers.  That’s why the new FRA portal has more interactive features with downloadable fact sheets on safety and a resource library that is easy to navigate.  The site makes accessing information about railroad crossing safety and trespass prevention more streamlined, with a focus on education.

“Ending fatalities at railroad crossings and by trespassers is not a goal FRA can achieve with just another regulation or rule.  It will take a strong commitment from everyone – law enforcement, regulators, railroads, and motorists who drive over railroad track every day – and better education,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.  “Providing information on a clean, user friendly, and interactive website will help people stay safe around railroad crossings and tracks and get us one step closer to stopping these preventable deaths.”

Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the uptick in fatalities at railroad crossings.  The campaign includes partnering with Google and other tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s approximately 200,000 railroad crossings to add crossing alerts to map applications.  FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings.  In 2015, 244 individuals died at railroad crossings, down from 264 in 2014.

Last month, the FRA awarded nearly USD 10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes.  In addition, FRA Administrator Feinberg highlighted the importance of partnerships between the states and railroads in her letter to state DOTs urging them to conduct inspections with railroads on traffic lights connected to railroad crossings.  Furthermore, funds available to states through the Federal Highway Administration’s Section 130 Program, which provides funds for the elimination of hazards at railway-highway crossings, will increase to USD350 million from USD220 million in 2016.

New York, NY: Feds launch safety review after crossing collision

3 Aug

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has launched a comprehensive, focused safety review of the New York & Atlantic Railway’s (NY&AR) safety culture and management practices. This follows FRA’s launch of an investigation into the July 8th, 2015, train-truck collision at Maspeth Avenue in Queens, New York. NY&AR has committed their full cooperation as the safety review moves forward.

The safety analysis conducted by FRA will review NY&AR’s compliance with federal regulations, its operational practices and its overall safety culture. The safety analysis team will be composed of multiple-discipline safety inspectors from FRA Region 1.

“Rail safety is a responsibility DOT shares with the operators,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “Railroads must adhere to the strict standards of safety set by FRA, and FRA must ensure and enforce compliance in order to protect lives. This safety review aims to do just that.”

FRA’s rail safety team will look at:

  • NY&AR operating departments;
  • Engineer and conductor certification;
  • Locomotive engineer oversight;
  • Grade crossings diagnostics;
  • Operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training;
  • Human factors; and
  • Compliance with federal operating practices regulations.

“In this safety sweep of NY&AR, FRA will provide recommendations on specific areas where the railroad must improve to meet the high safety standards FRA and the country expect,” Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said.

Once the focused safety review is complete, FRA will issue a report that includes findings and recommendations. FRA will also evaluate NY&AR’s follow-up to the recommendations and determine if additional actions are necessary to strengthen safety at NY&AR

Encinitas, CA: Federal grant funding of USD 2.2 million secured

12 May

LXinfoImage1286The Federal Railroad Administration is providing a USD 2.2 million grant, half of the USD 4.4 million required to upgrade a level crossing in Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, San Diego County. The funding to match the Federal grant will be funded from the voter approved 1/2 cent sales tax levied regionally. The grant and matched funding will be used to improve the busy Chesterfield Drive level crossing which links roads running parallel on both sides of the railway.

The application for funding was made by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) which will project manage the upgrade. While the active crossing controls are being replaced, improvements to benefit pedestrians and cyclists will be made. The level crossing controls will be linked to traffic lights in the vicinity to overlay an additional control.

The level crossing works are planned to be implemented at the same time as a USD 76.7 million project to double-track the railway, with construction expected in 2016.

USA: Union Pacific records good first quarter results

30 Apr

LXinfoImage146-UPlogo-sourceUPUnion Pacific Railroad (UP) has reported a 27% improvement in the number of Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reportable level crossing accidents per million train miles. Compared with the first quarter of 2014, the rate fell from 2.39 to 1.88

UP considers that the 27% reduction in reportable accidents reflects the company’s focus on community safety outreach initiatives as well as the way in which UP operates its business, including the vision of driving accidents to zero.

Chappaqua, NY: Continuing pressure for action to address crossing risks

8 Apr

Congresswoman Nita Lowey and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Acting Administrator, Sarah Feinberg, visited the level crossing of the Metro-North right-of-way at Roaring Brook Road in Chappaqua on March 31st, 2015, to talk about the danger posed by this and other crossings.

For the last two months Ms Lowey has called for immediate action to improve level crossing safety for residents, businesses, and communities in the Lower Hudson Valley. In parallel officials from the Town of New Castle have called on state or federal officials to build a bridge specifically at Roaring Brook Road.

“I’m pleased FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg is here to see firsthand how dangerous these crossings are,” said Lowey in a prepared statement. “With more than 250,000 public and private grade crossings around the country, we must tackle this important safety challenge with a multi-faceted approach. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be fighting to protect and increase funding for rail crossing safety initiatives.”

Joining Ms Lowey and Ms Feinberg were President of the Metro-North Railroad Joseph Giulietti, Chief Safety Office of Metro-North Railroad Anne Kirsch, Metro Transit Authority (MTA) Chief of Police Michael Coan, State DOT Planning and Program Manager Tom Weiner, Westchester Board of Legislators Chair Mike Kaplowitz, New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, Town of New Castle Comptroller Robert Deary, New Castle Department of Public Works Deputy Commissioner Gerry Moerschell, Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi, and Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva.

USA: Crossing and trespass fatalities increase in 2014. Operation Lifesaver comments

11 Mar

LXinfoImage1235-See tracks think trainLevel crossing fatalities increased from 231 to 267 year on year, a rise of 15.6% in 2014 while collisions with road vehicles on level crossings showed an increase of 8.8% which took the 2014 figure to 2,280 which equates to a train-vehicle collision once every 3hrs 50mins. Trespasser fatalities increased from 432 to 526 in 2014, a 21.8% increase.

Operation Lifesaver has responded promptly to the release of 2014 statistics showing increase in the number of level crossing fatalities and trespass fatalities in the USA.

Joyce Rose, the President and CEO of Operation Lifesaver Inc said “The statistics show that challenges remain in our mission to educate a busy, distracted public about the need for caution at train tracks,”

“These preliminary 2014 statistics demonstrate the continuing need to raise public awareness through our national ‘See Tracks? Think Train!’ campaign,” Rose continued. “Operation Lifesaver, in partnership with major freight railroads, commuter and light rail systems, state and local law enforcement, and transportation agencies, will be expanding the campaign and developing new educational materials to encourage Americans to make safe decisions around tracks and trains,” she concluded.

USA: Feds push for more awareness raising and enforcement

11 Mar

As part of its ongoing effort to improve safety at railroad grade crossings, the Federal Railroad Administration has announced the first step in a new, multi-faceted campaign aimed at strengthening enforcement and safety awareness at grade crossings.

The first phase of this effort calls upon local law enforcement agencies to show a greater presence at grade crossings, issue citations to drivers that violate rules of the road at crossings and consider rapid implementation of best practices for grade crossing safety.

The next phase of FRA’s efforts to improve safety at grade crossings will aim to employ smarter uses of technology, increase public awareness of grade crossing safety, including distracted driving, improve signage, work closer in partnership with states and local safety agencies, and call for new funding for greater safety at grade crossings.

“Recent accidents in New York and California are important reminders of our shared challenge to both educate the public about grade crossing safety, and to enforce appropriate behavior around railroad operations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Grade crossing and trespassing accidents are serious challenges to maintaining public safety. Every three hours of every day, someone is hit by a train in the United States and we must do all we can to heighten public awareness, strengthen enforcement efforts and pioneer new technologies to better secure public safety.”

There are 250,711 grade crossings in the United States; about 51% of those are public-at-grade crossings. Only half of all public grade crossings have automatic-warning systems and only a third have flashing lights and gates. Approximately 15% of all grade crossings are grade separated – the safest of all crossings – meaning railroad traffic is completely separated from vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

States and localities have traditionally played the most significant role in determining the type of warning system present at grade crossings, with most system decisions determined by traffic levels. Upgrades to existing grade crossings are also the responsibility of states and local communities. Under federal law and regulations, railroads are responsible for inspecting, testing, and maintaining highway-rail grade crossings. The FRA issues and enforces regulations on crossing safety, issues guidance on best practices and conducts research on ways to improve crossings safety.

Additionally, the federal government provides more than $287.9 million annually to states to help improve and enhance safety at public grade crossings.

“The reality is that while the overall number of deaths and injuries from grade crossing incidents has come down significantly over the last two decades, this remains a serious problem. We can and should be doing everything we possibly can to keep drivers, pedestrians, and train crews and passengers safe at grade crossings,” said Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration. “In addition to this renewed outreach to law enforcement, FRA will take a fresh look at our grade crossing programs and activities.”

Facts on grade crossings:

    • 239 people were killed and 763 people were injured in grade crossing incidents in 2014.
    • In Fiscal Year 2014 the top ten states with the most grade crossing accidents in ranking order include: Texas; California; Illinois; Indiana; Georgia; Alabama; Louisiana; Ohio; Florida; Tennessee.
    • The FRA, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and State Departments of Transportation have worked together with railroads to close more than 18,000 grade crossings nationwide since 2008.
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