National Rail Safety Action Plan Fully Implemented

The chief of the Federal Railroad Administration, Joseph Boardman, and his boss, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, hailed a 23.3 percent reduction in train accidents in the past three years and said it results from the National Rail Safety Action Plan, a comprehensive program started in May 2005 that now is fully implemented. Boardman announced the completion of its implementation on May 14, noting it was launched after several major train accidents.

"Because of the changes instituted as part of the plan, we’ve seen nearly a 25 percent decrease in train accidents," he said. "Our success was made possible by dedicated FRA professionals and actions taken by railroads, their employees, and others. Under the Action Plan, we focused on reducing the two leading causes of train accidents -- human factors and track flaws. We accelerated research to strengthen hazmat tank cars; addressed the effects of fatigue on train crews; enhanced highway-rail grade crossing safety by forging stronger partnerships with states; and most importantly, we've used data in a new way to better direct our inspection resources where they're needed most.

"While we have done much, there is still more we can do to make our railroads safer. The achievements of this Action Plan lay the foundation for a new and promising 'FRA Risk Reduction Strategy' to improve rail safety even more," Boardman added. "FRA will work more closely with management and labor to gain knowledge and awareness of the causes of accidents, so that we can effectively analyze problems and follow up with corrective actions. This strategy will help create innovative methods and technologies to identify and fix safety issues before they can cause a train accident or an employee injury. I believe this new risk reduction approach will supplement the best elements of our current rail safety program and drive improvements in the years to come."

His comments and other safety news from DOT are available in a new departmental blog that can be found at http://fastlane.dot.gov/.

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