FRA Train Accident Investigation Reports Now Available Online

To increase public awareness about the causes of specific train accidents and to reduce the need for individuals to submit Freedom of Information Act requests, Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced yesterday that for the first time the agency is making its investigation reports of major train accidents and other incidents available online.

"There's no reason that anyone who's interested shouldn't be able to find out the probable cause of a train accident," said Boardman, explaining that formal FRA accident investigation reports generally focus on high-consequence train-to-train collisions, derailments, certain highway-rail grade crossing collisions, and all railroad employee fatalities.

Boardman said that the Factual Investigation Reports now posted on the FRA web site contain detailed narratives describing the circumstances of the accident or incident and provide an analysis of the facts and FRA's conclusion as to why the event occurred. Making this information more accessible will benefit railroads, railroad employees, state and local officials, communities, shippers, insurers, and others directly or indirectly impacted by these events, he added.

FRA accident investigation reports for all of 2005 and 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 are online now. The reports for the remainder of 2007 will be posted in the coming months. Those for 2008 as well as all future reports will be made available online as they are completed and finalized, Boardman said. A major train accident or incident investigation typically takes six to nine months to complete, and no portions of reports are made public until an investigation is finalized. An up-to-date listing of all active, open and ongoing investigations will also be posted online.

Due to size constraints and other considerations, FRA says attachments and exhibits associated with its investigation reports are not being posted online, and will continue to be available only through a FOIA request. The accident/incident reports that railroads are required by federal law to routinely file with the FRA will continue to be available online. Individuals may sign up for automatic e-mail notification of when a new investigation report is added to the public webpage. The accident investigation Web site can be accessed at www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/1696.

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