News & Publications

Rail Law Alert No. 21

FRA Issues Safety Advisory to Enforce Passenger Train Maximum Speeds

To ensure compliance with maximum authorized operating speeds, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued Safety Advisory 2015-03 on June 9, 2015, announcing that FRA would be increasing enforcement actions in the coming months on passenger railroads and those sections of the freight network that host passenger operations. FRA intends to conduct on-board inspections; monitor speed by radar at locations of significant speed restrictions; monitor railroad officers who conduct operational tests; and conduct comprehensive reviews of railroads’ implementation of their own operational tests and inspection programs, among other measures.

In addition, FRA recommended that passenger and host railroads take a number of steps to prevent passenger rail operations in excess of authorized speeds, including the addition of signage and wayside signals on passenger routes, particularly at track locations where the authorized speed from the approach to a bridge or curve must be reduced by more than 20 mph; modifying existing ATC systems to automatically reduce speeds at such locations; and adding a second crew member in the cab.