The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that its stepped-up enforcement of railroad safety regulations led to the highest-ever civil penalty collection rate in the agency’s 50-year history.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the agency will collect 75% of all civil penalties it issued to railroads for violating federal safety regulations — a 6% increase over FY2014, and the largest percentage rate ever collected by the agency. The total amount of civil penalties in FY2015, $15 million, increased by 12% compared to the previous year.

“Safety must be the number one priority for every railroad, and the Department of Transportation will continue to take aggressive action against railroads who fail to follow safety rules,” said U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “A strong safety enforcement program is critical to prevent accidents, save lives and move our country forward.”

FRA’s collection rate is the highest in the agency’s history and significantly higher than previous years.

Last year, more than 6,485 railroad company violations resulted in civil penalties. The largest portion of those violations, 29% percent, was for motive power and equipment violations, followed by 26% for track violations.

“Setting a record for collections is an important milestone, but it is just one element of FRA’s broader effort to achieve a safer rail system,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “As we continue to aggressively enforce safety regulations, FRA will also continue to implement new, innovative solutions to increase safety.”

The stepped-up enforcement of safety regulations is part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s larger, comprehensive effort to increase safety of the nation’s rail system. Administrator Feinberg has also prioritized railroad crossing safety, improving the safety of hazmat and crude transport, increasing transparency and working more closely with the National Transportation Safety Board.

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