FRA

FRA reported on May 19 that more than 70,000 inspections were conducted in FY 2021 to assess railroad compliance with regulations and laws that govern track, motive power and equipment, operating practices, signal and train control, hazardous materials, grade crossing signal system safety, industrial hygiene, and safety management systems.

FRA Issues FY21 Safety Enforcement Report

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released its annual enforcement report summarizing the 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.

The FRA report found that Amtrak trains experienced approximately 1.3 million minutes of delay during first-quarter 2022, up 9% from the previous quarter. System-wide, first-quarter 2022 train-miles were up 8% from fourth-quarter 2021, coming in at 8,790,595 train-miles, as Amtrak continued to restore service following the pandemic. (Amtrak Photograph)

FRA Issues Amtrak OTP Report Card for 1Q22

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a report measuring the performance and service quality of Amtrak intercity passenger train operations for first-quarter 2022 (ending Dec. 31, 2021). Among the findings: the Auto Train, Capitol Limited and Sunset Limited were delayed most.

FRA Launches Corridor ID Program

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has established the Corridor Identification and Development (ID) Program that “will serve as a key vehicle for directing federal investments and technical assistance toward new or improved intercity passenger rail services across the nation.” Amtrak expressed its support.

Jennifer Mitchell, Deputy Administrator, FRA (Brandon Sloan Photography, ASLRRA)

FRA Deputy Talks CRISI, Crew Size with ASLRRA

Less than a month after being appointed FRA Deputy Administrator, Jennifer Mitchell discussed agency priorities and how small roads can best position themselves for CRISI program grants, among other issues, during the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) May 1-3 conference and exhibition in St. Louis.

“With thermal detector technology, we can gather more data about the health of brakes on a moving train than can be collected from a visual inspection,” BNSF EVP and COO Matt Igoe reported.

Watch: BNSF Brake Health Pilot Program

BNSF is conducting a pilot safety program approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to evaluate the effectiveness of thermal detector technology for monitoring brake health.

BNSF, FRA Automated Track Inspection Dispute in Federal Court

BNSF has filed a Petition for Review with the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, naming the Federal Railroad Administration, FRA Administrator Amit Bose and the USDOT, of the FRA’s March 21, 2022 order (Docket Number FRA-2020-0064 – Request to Expand Automated Track Inspection Program) denying BNSF’s request “to expand an existing waiver of certain requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 213.233 to permit BNSF to broaden its implementation of automated track inspection technologies.”

Federal Judge Halts Mask Mandate for Transportation, DOJ Appeals (UPDATED)

A Florida judge on April 18 struck down a federal mandate requiring mask use on public transportation and at transportation hubs. While railroads were deciding whether to keep the mandate in place until May 3 or make mask-wearing optional, the Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 20 filed an appeal. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is weighing in.

An ACS64-led Amtrak Northeast Regional train prepares to depart Penn Station New York, bound for Washington, D.C. William C. Vantuono photo

Biden FY23 Budget Request: $105B for USDOT

President Joe Biden on March 28 submitted to Congress a $5.79 trillion budget plan for fiscal year 2023 that calls for $105 billion to be distributed to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). With an additional $37 billion in guaranteed advance appropriations provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL; also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA), the USDOT’s total budget would be $142 billion. Included in the budget for USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is funding for four new rail-related projects; the Gateway Program’s Hudson Tunnel project in New York and New Jersey, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Silicon Valley Phase II rail project in California are among them.