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. 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 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.
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. Non-legislative recommendations for FRA policy come from the Rail Safety Advisory Committee, established in 1996, 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. These regulations include enforcement of positive train control and enforcement of more stringent conductor certification requirements.
Recent Safety Initiatives
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.
List of administrators
|Year began||Year end||Name||Appointed by|
|1967||1969||A. Scheffer Lang||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|1969||1970||Reginald Whitman||Richard Nixon|
|1971||1974||John Ingram||Richard Nixon|
|1974||1977||Asaph H. Hall||Richard Nixon|
|1977||1981||John M. Sullivan||Jimmy Carter|
|1981||1983||Robert W. Blanchette||Ronald Reagan|
|1983||1989||John H. Riley||Ronald Reagan|
|1989||1993||Gilbert Carmichael||George H. W. Bush|
|1993||2000||Jolene Molitoris||Bill Clinton|
|2001||2004||Allan Rutter||George W. Bush|
|2004||2005||Betty Munro (acting)||George W. Bush|
|2005||2008||Joseph H. Boardman||George W. Bush|
|2008||2009||Clifford C. Eby (acting)||George W. Bush|
|2009||2014||Joe Szabo||Barack Obama|
|2015||2017||Sarah Feinberg||Barack Obama|
|2017||present||Patrick T. Warren (acting)||Donald Trump|
Sarah Feinberg was the Administrator of the FRA from 2015 to 2017. 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. Feinberg had previously served as Foxx's Chief of Staff, managing DOT's ten modal organizations, and spearheading its legislative, policy, and communications efforts. Feinberg's tenure as Administrator featured a greater emphasis on the enforcement of safety rules and regulations relative to her predecessors.
Patrick T. Warren, Executive Director of the FRA, is the current acting Administrator pending the appointment and confirmation of a new Administrator.
- 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.
- Rail speed limits in the United States