Monday, January 25, 2010

FRA taps El-Sibaie as deputy associate administrator

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The Federal Railroad Administration has named Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie its new deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory, and legislative affairs. He succeeds Grady Cothen, who announced late last year that he would retire, but will assist with the transition through March.

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El-Sibaie (pictured at left) most recently was acting associate administrator for hazardous materials safety at DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Until last October, he served as FRA’s director of research and development. Prior to that, he served as the agency’s chief of track research, where he managed the FRA’s track inspection technology development program that created improved systems for measuring track geometry at high speeds.

He joined FRA in 1995 as a senior program manager in the Office of Research and Development, chairing a government-industry working group that formulated the first set of safety standards for U.S. high speed rail service. He also worked with rail suppliers and Amtrak to establish standards for Amtrak Acela service operating on the Northeast Corridor.

El-Sibaie earned a doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Delaware in 1986, and was recruited by the Association of American Railroads as a researcher at the industry’s Chicago Technical Center, where he is credited with pioneering new methods of computer modeling to measure the dynamic behavior of track under varying loads, speeds, and conditions. For that work, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers honored him in in 1980 with its Rail Transportation Award.

As deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory, and legislative affairs, El-Sibaie will lead FRA initiatives that develop and implement industry safety regulatory strategy. These efforts include leading the Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) in studying emerging safety issues, including the incorporation of new technology into the rail environment, as well as risk reduction strategies and close-call reporting.