Federal Railroad Administration

FRA Green-Lights Continuous Ultrasonic Track Inspection

It’s a long-awaited rulemaking: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Aug. 28 submitted to the Federal Register its “Final Rule on Rail Integrity Amendments & Track Safety Standards,” which the agency says “focuses more on providing performance-based outcomes, rather than prescribing exactly how companies conduct effective tests. Railroads will be expected to utilize established methods to conduct required rail inspections, but they will also have the flexibility to utilize new technologies and methods as they are proven safe and effective.” Specifically, this final rule allows railroads to use ultrasonic inspection technology augmented with global positioning system (GPS) for continuous rail flaw testing.

FRA + STB: Seven Class I’s, One Letter

The Surface Transportation Board and Federal Railroad Administration on Aug. 24 sent joint, identical letters to the CEOs of the seven North American Class I’s—Carl Ice (BNSF), Keith Creel (Canadian Pacific), JJ Ruest (CN), Jim Foote (CSX), Pat Ottensmeyer (Kansas City Southern), Jim Squires (Norfolk Southern) and Lance Fritz (Union Pacific)—citing service problems and “increased communication and transparency with rail shippers.”

FRA RD&T: Using AI to Improve Safety

Ingenuity and innovation have made rail one of the safest modes of transportation in our nation today. Hard lessons were learned over many decades by railroads, workers and regulators. Significant strides were made possible by the development and widespread adoption of evolving technologies and modern business practices. Among the contemporary cutting-edge technologies making their mark on the railroad industry is artificial intelligence, or “AI.”

FRA “Highly Pleased” With 98.8% PTC Implementation

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s second-quarter 2020 update on railroads’ self-reported progress on fully implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) by the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline shows that, as of June 30, 2020, the job is 98.8% complete. Nearly all railroads subject to the statutory mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), with PTC technology remaining to be activated on only approximately 700 required route-miles.

USDOT Issues Rule Authorizing Bulk Transport of LNG by Rail

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued on June 19 a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail.

Tech Evolution Vehicle: FRA RD&T

RAILWAY AGE, JUNE 2020 ISSUE: Consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the primary strategic goal of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is safety. The FRA mission statement reflects this priority: promoting the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods by rail. Safety has been and remains the principle driver of FRA research and development, carried out by the Office of Research, Development and Technology (RD&T).

FRA Announces $291.4MM for Rail Capital Projects

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a $291.4 million notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant Program (Partnership Program). This is the third such NOFO for the Partnership Program to help repair and rehabilitate intercity passenger railroad assets.