Rail Accident Baseline Raised

The reporting threshold for calendar year 2012 for rail equipment collisions, derailments, fires, explosions, etc. is $9,500, up from $9,400 this year.

The Federal Railroad Administration is raising the reporting threshold for rail accidents (defined as rail equipment collisions, derailments, fires, explosions, acts of God, and other events involving the operation of on-track equipment) to $9,500 for the 2012 calendar year. The change takes effect Jan. 1.

FRA raised it to minimize the reporting burden imposed on small railroads because every qualifying rail equipment accident/incident must be reported to FRA using the Rail Equipment Accident/Incident Report (Form FRA F 6180.54).

The agency's final rule said it considers about 721 of the approximately 754 railroads in the United States to be small entities. "A railroad that employs thousands of employees and operates trains millions of miles is exposed to greater risks than one whose operation is substantially smaller," the rule states. "Small railroads may go for months at a time without having a reportable occurrence of any type, and even longer without having a rail equipment accident/incident. For example, current FRA data indicate that 3,000 rail equipment accidents/incidents were reported in 2006, with small railroads reporting 379 of them. Data for 2007 show that 2,694 rail equipment accidents/incidents were reported, with small railroads reporting 368 of them. Data for 2008 show that 2,478 rail equipment accidents/incidents were reported, with small railroads reporting 296 of them. In 2009, 1,905 rail equipment accidents/incidents were reported, and small railroads reported 272 of them. In 2010, 1,888 rail equipment accidents/incidents were reported, with small railroads reporting 258 of them." The average for those five calendar years was that small railroads reported about 13 percent of all rail equipment accidents/incidents.

For more information, contact Kebo Chen, staff director at FRA's Office of Safety Analysis, at 202-493-6079.

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