Federal Railroad Administration

News & Analysis as of

FRA Issues Safety Advisory to All Passenger Railroads in Response to Recent Amtrak and Metro-North Derailments

On June 9, 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration ("FRA") issued Safety Advisory 2015-03 requiring passenger railroads to make operational and signal modifications to ensure compliance with speed restrictions. The FRA is...more

DOT Tank Car Rule Reflects Refined Cost-Benefit Analysis

On May 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation, acting through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, issued a much-anticipated final rule on the enhanced tank car standards and operational...more

New Federal Oil-By-Rail Regulations Published

Today, May 8, 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final rule for rail transport of crude oil in the Federal Register. These rules come after several high-profile oil train derailments,...more

Crude-by-Rail Update: The DOT’s Final Rule Is Out—How Can Producers and Midstream Transporters Comply with the New Classification...

On May 1, the Department of Transportation—through its operating agencies the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration—issued its final crude-by-rail rule. The rule...more

Recent Crude-by-Rail Developments

The transportation of crude oil by rail continues to be a key issue for rail and energy industry stakeholders as well as policy makers. Below is a summary of recent developments. 1. DOT Takes Six Crude-by-Rail Safety...more

Oil on the Rails: States Increasing Regulation of Oil Trains

The increase in North American petroleum production in recent years, coupled with inadequate pipeline infrastructure, has resulted in a significant rise of, and reliance on, the transport of crude oil by rail. Public...more

FRA's Proposed Rule on Risk Reduction Programs Puts the Outreach Obligations Squarely on Railroad Management

On February 27, 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration ("FRA") published its proposed rule on Risk Reduction Programs in the Federal Register. The proposed rule would require Class I railroads and railroads with an...more

Supreme Court Decides Dept. of Transportation et al v. Ass'n of Am. Railroads

On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Dept. of Transportation et al v. Ass’n of Am. Railroads No. 13-1080, holding that, based on the federal government’s control and supervision of Amtrak, Amtrak may act as a...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - February 2015

Environmental and Policy Focus: High-speed rail project runs afoul of kit fox conservation requirements - Fresno Bee - Feb 2: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the California High-Speed Rail...more

New State Oil-By-Rail Regulations Take Effect, While Rail Capacity Is Squeezed

As we reported earlier, consideration of proposed federal rulemaking concerning crude oil-by-rail transportation recommended by the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration is...more

Supreme Court to Address Important Business Regulation Question Next Month in Department of Transportation v. Association of...

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Dep't of Transp. v. Ass'n of Am. Railroads, a case that may have major ramifications for businesses operating in the United States. This case concerns the limits...more

Railroad Companies Allege Federal Law Governing Petroleum Transport Preempts SB 861

Railroad transportation of raw petroleum, often referred to as “crude-by-rail,” has received increasing media attention in recent months, due to health and environmental concerns. California took a stab at legislating rail...more

"Cases to Watch in the 2014-15 Supreme Court Term"

The Supreme Court will begin its new term on Monday, October 6, 2014. Although the Court has not yet accepted for review any headline-grabbing cases of the type we’ve seen in recent years in such areas as campaign finance,...more

Oil Transport: PHMSA Proposes Comprehensive New Rules for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

Proposed sweeping new safety requirements for rail transportation of large quantities of flammable liquids, including crude oil, could increase costs significantly. Since 2013, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT)...more

Amtrak's Metrics-Making Power Hangs In The Balance

In July 2013, the D.C. Circuit ruled that Section 207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 ("PRIIA"), under which Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration ("FRA") jointly established metrics and...more

Amtrak and Maryland DOT Plan for Improvements to the Vital Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel Moves to the Public Input Stage

The 141-year-old Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel is a major bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor, but Amtrak, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are conducting a...more

FRA Reminds Potential Applicants that Buy America Applies to RRIF

On May 14, the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) posted a reminder that Buy America, a domestic preference law, applies to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (“RRIF”) program. FRA posted the reminder...more

Safety Alerts and Other Recommendations in the Wake of Rail Accidents Involving Bakken Formation Crude Oil

Recent accidents involving rail cars transporting crude oil from the Bakken shale region have resulted in the heightened interest of rail industry regulators and other federal agencies, including the Pipeline and Hazardous...more

Don’t Get Caught on the Wrong Side of the Track: PHMSA Issues New Safety Alert

On January 2, 2014, the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a safety alert for the purpose of notifying the general public, emergency responders and shippers and carriers that recent...more

How To Fix RRIF (If Congress Wanted To)

Last week I attended an invitation only round table organized by Karen Hedlund, Deputy Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration. The round table was held in conjunction with the High Speed Rail Conference held...more

Train Explosion Drives Federal Railroad Administration to Issue New Regulations Impacting the Transportation of Petroleum Products

On August 2, 2013 the Federal Railroad Administration ("FRA") released Emergency Order No. 28, Notice No. 1 and Safety Advisory 2013-06 in response to the July 2013 tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada where a cargo train...more

Oil Transportation Safety under Scrutiny by the Federal Railroad Administration

The United States Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced in a July 29 letter to the American Petroleum Institute that it is investigating the safety of transporting crude oil by rail, citing potential safety issues...more

Positive Train Control Still on the Front Burner

In 2008, Congress mandated the installation of positive train control ("PTC") communications and signaling technology on many passenger and freight rail lines by the end of 2015. 49 U.S.C. § 20157. Congress tasked the...more

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