The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.[3] 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.[19]

The FRA is one of 10 agencies within DOT 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.[20]


The FRA oversees both passenger (top) and freight (bottom) rail operations in the United States.

All passenger and freight rail travel in the United States is subject to regulation by the FRA. Most notably, the FRA enforces safety regulations, such as speed limits and requirements for safety features such as positive train control.[21] Non-legislative recommendations for FRA policy come from the Rail Safety Advisory Committee, established in 1996,[22] though much of FRA policy is created via congressional legislation; for example, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was an act of Congress, to which the FRA enforced through a series of regulations published two years later.[23] These regulations include enforcement of positive train control and enforcement of more stringent conductor certification requirements.[24][25]

Recent Safety Initiatives

In 2011, the FRA began the process of updating its electronic device policy for active train operators.[2]

In June 2015, the FRA announced a railway safety initiative with Google that would include the FRAs GIS data into its mapping services. The data pinpoints the location of over 250,000 rail crossings in the United States. The FRA believes that providing the location of rail crossings in maps will enhance crossing safety by people who are using navigation systems while driving.[2][2]

List of administrators

Year beganYear endNameAppointed by
19671969A. Scheffer LangLyndon B. Johnson
19691970Reginald WhitmanRichard Nixon
19711974John IngramRichard Nixon
19741977Asaph H. HallRichard Nixon
19771981John M. SullivanJimmy Carter
19811983Robert W. BlanchetteRonald Reagan
19831989John H. RileyRonald Reagan
19891993Gilbert CarmichaelGeorge H. W. Bush
19932000Jolene MolitorisBill Clinton
20012004Allan RutterGeorge W. Bush
20042005Betty Munro (acting)George W. Bush
20052008Joseph H. BoardmanGeorge W. Bush
20082009Clifford C. Eby (acting)George W. Bush
20092014Joe SzaboBarack Obama
20152017Sarah FeinbergBarack Obama
2017presentPatrick T. Warren (acting)Donald Trump


Sarah Feinberg was the Administrator of the FRA from 2015 to 2017.[2] Feinberg was the second woman to lead the agency. Her appointment was announced by United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on January 12, 2015 and confirmed on October 28, 2015.[2] Feinberg had previously served as Foxx's Chief of Staff, managing DOT's ten modal organizations, and spearheading its legislative, policy, and communications efforts.[2] Feinberg's tenure as Administrator featured a greater emphasis on the enforcement of safety rules and regulations relative to her predecessors.[2]

Joe Szabo was the first FRA Administrator to be chosen from the ranks of railroad employment.[3][9][3].

Patrick T. Warren, Executive Director of the FRA, is the current acting Administrator pending the appointment and confirmation of a new Administrator.

See also