FRA to require risk reduction program for Class I railroads, certain short lines

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration has issued a final rule, launching the Risk Reduction Program to support an increasing standard of safety for the nation’s freight railroads.

“The Risk Reduction Program will improve safety in the nation’s freight rail system,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The final rule requires the nation’s largest freight railroads, known as Class I, to each develop and implement an FRA-approved RRP Plan. These comprehensive, system-oriented safety plans are required to identify and analyze hazards and their associated risks, and develop and implement plans to eliminate or mitigate those risks. An RRP is designed to improve operational safety, complementing a railroad’s adherence to all other applicable FRA regulations. Each railroad must tailor an RRP for its individual operations, and the RRP must reflect the substantive facts on any hazards associated with each railroads’ operations.

“Railroads’ ongoing evaluation of their asset base and employee performance associated with operations and maintenance, under FRA regulations, can now follow a more uniform path of standardization, towards further reducing risks and enhancing safety,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said.

In addition to Class I railroads, the rule also applies to smaller Class II and III freight railroads with inadequate safety performance. Other railroads may proactively submit RRP Plans to FRA for approval. Railroads must involve employees in implementation of the RRP including identification of risks and hazards.

This rule implements a mandate required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. FRA issued a final rule establishing the Risk Reduction Program which has been published in the Federal Register and can be accessed online

— From a Federal Railroad Administration news release. Feb. 18, 2020.
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