Federal Railroad Administration
Seal of the Department of Transportation
|Formed||April 1, 1967|
|Jurisdiction||United States Government|
|Annual budget||$1.561 billion (2008)|
|Agency executive||Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator|
|Parent agency||US Department of Transportation|
|Website||Federal Railroad Administration|
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation. The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. The purpose of FRA is to promulgate and enforce rail safety regulations, administer railroad assistance programs, conduct research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy, provide for the rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger service, and consolidate government support of rail transportation activities.
The FRA is one of 10 agencies within the Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation. It operates through seven divisions under the offices of the Administrator and Deputy Administrator. These divisions are: Financial Management and Administration, Chief Counsel, Civil Rights, Public Affairs, Public Engagement, Railroad Policy and Development, and Safety. It has a staff of about 850.
In December 2008, Clifford C. Eby was named acting administrator, replacing Joseph H. Boardman, who took over as head of Amtrak. Boardman headed the agency since the United States Senate confirmed him on May 3, 2005. Until his appointment with the FRA, Boardman was transportation commissioner for the state of New York. He began working as FRA Administrator on June 1, 2005.
On April 29, 2009, the United States Senate confirmed the nomination of Joe Szabo to become the new FRA Administrator. Szabo is the first FRA Administrator to be chosen from the ranks of railroad employment. Szabo's first railroad job began in 1976 with the Illinois Central Railroad as a switchman; he most recently served as Illinois state legislative director for the United Transportation Union (UTU). An informal swearing-in ceremony is expected to be held on May 5 to enable Szabo to begin work immediately with an official ceremony to be scheduled at a future date.
On January 12, 2015, United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced that United States Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Sarah Feinberg will serve as Acting Administrator of the FRA. She succeeds Joseph C. Szabo, who stepped down as the agency's head on January 9, 2015. Feinberg becomes the second woman to lead the agency since its founding in 1966.
Since 2013 Feinberg has served as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), managing the agency’s ten modal departments, and spearheading the agency’s legislative, policy, and communications efforts. Feinberg provided strategic advice and counsel to the Secretary regarding operational and legislative initiatives across all modes of transportation, as well as leading the department’s efforts on its $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization plan, sent to the U.S. Congress last year.
The FRA's safety regulations target historical causal factors in order to prevent those same practices from causing additional accidents and employee injuries. Human caused accidents are the greatest single portion of all railroad accidents. Although newer regulations have been enacted to stem these human caused accidents, their numbers have only been in slow decline over the past several years. There are regulations that focus on "crash worthiness" but are not taken at the expense of "collision avoidance". Similar approaches prevail in Europe, where crashworthiness has become a mandatory, legal requirement applying to all new types of rolling stock, both high speed and conventional (see for instance Commission Decision 2011/291/EU) after having been a widespread feature since the eighties. The FRA also oversees distribution of funding to Amtrak and to the High Speed Rail initiatives currently under study in various states.
- The Federal Transit Administration provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit agencies.
- The Interstate Commerce Commission regulated railroad safety prior to creation of the FRA.
- The National Transportation Safety Board investigates accidents and crashes involving railroads.
- The United States Railroad Administration operated from 1917 to 1920.
- Speed limits in the United States (rail)
- Gil Carmichael
- "U.S. Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2009 Budget In Brief". Retrieved 2011-02-26.
- 49 U.S.C. § 103, section 3(e)(1).
- Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). "Federal Railroad Administration: About Us."
- Federal Railroad Administration (2010). Washington, DC."About the FRA." Accessed 2010-08-28.
- "FRA Acting Administrator Named", APTA:Passenger Transport Express, December 5, 2008, accessed December 8, 2008
- "Joseph H. Boardman Begins Role as New Administrator for Federal Railroad Administration With Focus on Rail Safety and Intercity Passenger Rail Reform" (Press release). FRA. June 1, 2005. Retrieved 2005-06-06.
- "Senate confirms Joseph Boardman, New York state official, to head FRA". Trains News Wire. May 4, 2005. Retrieved 2005-05-05.[dead link]
- "Obama names labor leader to head FRA". Trains 69 (6): p 13. June 2009.
- Progressive Railroading (April 30, 2009). "Senate confirms Szabo's nomination as FRA administrator". Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
- "Senate confirms UTU's Szabo to FRA". UTU News (United Transportation Union). April 29, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2009.