The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released its annual enforcement report, summarizing regulatory compliance inspections and audits conducted in the past fiscal year by FRA or state inspectors participating in FRA’s rail safety program, as well as the civil penalty enforcement actions arising from them.
“For several decades, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has compiled an annual civil penalty report summarizing the civil penalty claims for violations of federal railroad safety and hazardous materials (hazmat) statutes, regulations, and orders FRA has closed,” FRA wrote in the FY 2022 report (download below). “As authorized by law, FRA issues orders assessing civil penalties for violations of the hazardous materials statutes, regulations, and orders. Also, as authorized by law, FRA negotiates settlements with railroads and other entities subject to its safety jurisdiction to resolve claims for civil penalties imposed for failures to comply with specific requirements that promote and ensure the safety of the nation’s freight and passenger railroad operations.”
In FY 2022, more than 60,000 inspections were conducted to assess railroad compliance with regulations and laws governing track, motive power and equipment, operating practices, signal and train control, hazardous materials, industrial hygiene, safety management systems, and grade crossing signal safety, for example.
Federal and state rail safety inspectors have several enforcement tools at their disposal; civil monetary penalties are reserved for the most severe instances of non-compliance, according to FRA.
FRA inspectors and managers, in making determinations, “consider the inherent seriousness of the condition or action; the kind and degree of potential safety hazard the condition or action poses; any actual harm to persons or property already caused by the condition or action; and the offending entity’s general level of compliance as revealed by the inspection,” according to FRA.
Enforcement actions may be against a railroad (such as Class I’s or Amtrak), a contractor to a railroad, hazmat shipper, tank car manufacturer, or an individual.
The FY 2022 report includes:
- A summary of rail safety and hazmat compliance inspections and audits FRA or state inspectors conducted and enforcement actions FRA recommended.
- A summary of FRA civil penalty enforcement actions sorted by type of alleged violation and type of respondent, including railroads, hazmat shippers, contractors and individuals.
- A discussion of the relationship between inspections and enforcement actions, the number and rate of reportable accidents and incidents, and railroad safety.
- An analysis of operating crew certification cases brought before FRA.
- A list of civil penalty cases FRA closed.