Federal agencies Rail

FRA awards grants for short-line railroad safety

Washington – The Federal Railroad Administration has provided a boost to the development of a Short Line Rail Safety Institute by awarding a pair of grants totaling $350,000.

FRA’s announcement drew praise from Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who in May led a bipartisan effort to increase the safety of short-line railroads. The Short Line Rail Safety Institute would help mitigate risks and enhance safety, the senators said, particularly regarding the transportation of crude oil and ethanol.

The awards include a $250,000 grant to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, which will start the pilot phase of safety culture assessments. The other award went to the University of Connecticut, which received $100,000 to focus on the development, testing and validation of safety education, training and development for managers and employees, Collins said in a press release.

Short-line railroads include more than 50,000 miles of track – about one-third of the national railroad network – but lack the federal funding that larger railroads receive to develop safety training, the senators wrote in a letter sent May 15 to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. Some tracks are as short as 2 miles; others stretch more than 1,000 miles.