FRA issues ‘risk reduction’ rule for freight railroads

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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a final rule that launches the Risk Reduction Program to support an increasing standard of safety for Class Is, agency officials announced yesterday.

The final rule requires the nation’s largest freight railroads to develop and implement an FRA-approved risk-reduction plan that identifies and analyzes hazards and associated risks to safety. The railroads also must develop and implement plans to eliminate or mitigate those risks, FRA officials said in a press release.

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory Photo – Federal Railroad Administration

A risk-reduction plan is designed to improve operational safety and complement a railroad’s adherence to all other applicable FRA regulations. Each railroad must tailor the plan for its individual operations and reflect “substantive facts” on hazards associated with those 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,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.

The final rule also applies to short lines with inadequate safety performance, FRA officials said. Other railroads may proactively submit their plans to the FRA for approval.

Moreover, railroads must involve employees in the identification of risks and hazards, as well as in the plan’s implementation.

The rule addresses a mandate required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

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