WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration will conduct safety assessments of all Class I railroads, Reuters reports, citing a June 1 letter from FRA Administrator Amit Bose to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
The letter by Bose says the FRA will conduct the assessments of each railroad over the next year and release “an overarching final report assessing issues, trends, and commonalities across all railroads reviewed,” with railroads asked to develop corrective actions in response to FRA recommendations.
In March, after National Transportation Safety Board announced plans for a special investigation of Norfolk Southern safety practices, Schumer asked the safety agency to expand that process to cover all Class I railroads [see “Senator calls for NTSB to expand NS safety investigation …,” Trains News Wire, March 15, 2023]. But Reuters reports that NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy told Schumer in April letter that the NTSB did not have the resources for such an undertaking, saying it would “strain our already limited resources and delay completion of current investigations.”
The FRA had announced its own safety assessment of NS on the same day earlier this year that the NTSB announced its investigation [see “FRA launches 60-day assessment …,” News Wire, March 7, 2023]. It now will conduct similar assessments elsewhere.
In remarks today on the Senate floor, Schumer thanked the FRA for its action and said the assessments “will be a good first step to identifying the problems that persist in individual companies, as well as the endemic problems permeating across the whole industry. … I hope the rail companies will take heed of the FRA’s assessment and make changes needed to protect our communities.”
The Association of American Railroads said in a statement to Reuters that “railroads’ safety culture is grounded in a commitment to continuous safety improvements, and FRA data continues to validate that rail remains a safe, responsible transportation solution.”
— Updated at 6:10 p.m. CDT with Schumer comment and AAR comment to Reuters.