FRA Renews RSAC Charter

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has renewed the charter of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) for a two-year period. The renewed charter, or “recharter,” as FRA terms it, increases the number of represented organizations by three, from 23 to 26, and the number of individual voting members by 17, from 34 to 51.

The three added represented organizations are the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO), Association of State Rail Safety Managers (ASRSM)—both previous RSAC members—and a new member, the Commuter Rail Coalition (CRC). “These changes will increase the diversity of perspectives and organizations represented on RSAC and will improve its ability to provide inclusive and balanced recommendations to FRA on key rail safety matters,” FRA said. (See RSAC’s existing 23 member organizations and Committee members/nominees here.)

FRA first established RSAC on March 25, 1996, under then-FRA Administrator Jolene Molitoris, as a “Federal Advisory Committee Act forum for collaborative rulemaking and program development,” FRA noted, adding that RSAC includes representatives “from all the agency’s major stakeholder groups, including railroads, labor organizations, suppliers, and manufacturers.” The previous RSAC charter went into effect Oct. 2, 2020, and limited RSAC membership to 34 individuals representing 23 organizations. The recharter “will be substantially similar to the one in effect prior to May 2018, and will restore RSAC membership numbers to its previous level and remove the cap on membership limits in working groups,” FRA said. “Through this action, FRA expects to build upon the legacy of accomplishments in issuing consensus-based rulemakings to ensure a safe rail transportation system and advance rail safety.”

Three iconic rail industry figures: Former FRA Administrators Ron Batory and Jolene Molitoris, and former AAR President and CEO Ed Hamberger, at Batory’s 2018 swearing-in ceremony at USDOT headquarters in Washington D.C. William C. Vantuono photo.

RSAC “establishes expert working groups, with a balanced representation of perspectives, to generate advice and recommendations for the FRA Administrator regarding the development and revision of railroad safety regulations, as well as the identification of non-regulatory alternatives for improvement of railroad safety,” FRA said. “In its history, RSAC has addressed 58 tasks and conducted almost 600 full committee, working group, and task force meetings on critical issues such as passenger equipment safety; locomotive engineer and conductor certification; risk reduction and system safety programs; track safety standards; and PTC.” 

“The Railroad Safety Advisory Committee plays an important role helping the FRA improve the safety of passengers and workers throughout our rail industry,” said Deputy Administrator Amit Bose, who is expected to be confirmed as Administrator at some point. “The steps we are taking today to renew the Committee’s charter and expand its membership will help DOT address key railroad safety challenges in the years ahead.”

The next full RSAC meeting will take place virtually on Dec. 8, 2021, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, Eastern Time. Meeting topics will include discussion of the new RSAC charter for 2021-2023; updates on recent activity by RSAC Working Groups for Part 225 Accident Reporting, Passenger Safety and Track Standards; and FRA’s proposal to the Committee of two new tasks, one related to Confidential Close Call Reporting Systems (C3RS), the other to roadway worker protection. A detailed agenda will be posted on the RSAC website at least one week in advance of the meeting. For more upcoming events, check the RSAC Calendar

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