Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced the start of a new risk reduction program (RRP), which is aimed at supplementing current federal regulations, inspection requirements, and other compliance and enforcement activities.
Boardman said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has recently sponsored several risk-reduction pilot projects and is now moving toward establishing the RRP as a formal agency safety program. In addition to input from rail management and labor, the FRA will be accepting public comment this fall on the RRP and how to make it most effective, he said.
The RRP initiative will develop innovative methods, processes and technologies to address the contributing risk factors that result in train accidents and employee injuries. For example, a conventional approach to prevent train derailments is to search for and fix any broken joint bars that connect two sections of track. A risk-based strategy will focus on identifying the precursors that indicate a joint bar might break followed by proper preventive maintenance before it fails, he said.
Boardman said the RRP framework encourages voluntary participation of railroads and labor on projects that target specific risk categories, such as confidential close call reporting systems, peer-to-peer accident prevention strategies and fatigue risk management programs. In addition, the RRP supports the strategic use by railroads of technology, such as trackside equipment to monitor trains as they roll by to identify potential safety problems.