H.R.4925 requires the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to implement certain recommendations for management and collection of railroad safety data. The Inspector General report recommends that FRA updates reporting guidance so users can more efficiently and accurately identify reporting requirements for different accident and incident types. The bill requires the FRA to implement a total 7 recommendations from the IG report. Further, to ensure compliance, the bill requires FRA to update Congress on its progress annually.
FRA's Office of Railroad Safety promotes and regulates safety throughout the Nation's railroad industry. The office executes its regulatory and inspection responsibilities through a diverse staff of railroad safety experts. The staff includes 400 Federal safety inspectors who operate out of eight regional offices.
The FRA Safety Data Improvement Act codifies safety accountability requirements to prevent shifting in standards from one administration to the next. It requires a plan and the implementation of recommendations found in a report from the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General. The bipartisan legislation improves and standardizes reporting and training around railway accidents on railroads like Amtrak and NJ Transit, including those that would have benefited from Positive Train Control (PTC). To ensure compliance, the Act also requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to update the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee annually on its progress.
The seven recommendations made within the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General Report are:
- Update reporting guidance so users can more efficiently and accurately identify reporting requirements for different accident and incident types and better understand the definitions of terms used on reporting forms.
- Implement routine or Web-accessible training or other outreach to improve how information is provided to railroad reporting officers and enhance their understanding of key reporting requirements and common reporting errors.
- Develop and implement a standard method for identifying and listing railroads in each FRA region subject to 49 CFR Part 225 requirements.
- Develop and implement procedures for tracking 49 CFR Part 225 audits of non-Class I railroads and identifying entities exempt from 49 CFR Part 225 reporting requirements.
- Establish a risk-based prioritization for auditing non-Class I railroads every 5 years. Part of the prioritization process should include determining whether any higher-risk non-Class I railroads should be audited more frequently.
- Formalize the 49 CFR Part 225 audit process with written guidance that identifies basic procedures, standards of evidence, and common sources of information, along with a process to update these standards and reevaluate audit priorities or scope when necessary.
- Develop and initiate regular training to FRA staff responsible for 49 CFR Part 225 audits and establish a procedure to update the training when necessary.