The Biden administration has announced its intention to perform safety evaluations on all significant railroads in the United States. This decision follows the Norfolk Southern-operated train derailment in Ohio on February 3.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Amit Bose communicated to Schumer in a previously undisclosed letter dated June 1 that the FRA would undertake evaluations on all essential railroads in the coming year. The agency also intends to publish a final report assessing issues, trends, and commonalities across all scrutinized railroads. Bose’s letter also indicated that each major railroad would be required to create corrective measures in response to FRA’s recommendations, and the FRA would ensure those are followed through to completion.
Senator Schumer’s office took a critical view of the recent actions within the freight rail industry. In a statement, his office said, “this will be a good first step to identifying the problems that persist in individual companies as well as what endemic problems permeate across the whole industry.” They added, “the freight rail industry has perpetuated a culture of cost-cutting and shortcuts that has led to horrific damages in communities, injured workers, and even death.”
The Association of American Railroads, an industry trade group, fired back at Schumer’s office, saying, “Railroads safety culture is grounded in a commitment to continuous safety improvements, and FRA data continues to validate that rail remains a safe, responsible transportation solution.”