[box type="shadow"]Since the 1800s, railroads have shipped goods from one end of the United States to the other. Additionally, passenger trains ferry people coast to coast every day of the year. Scenic railways take passengers on limited excursions through countryside known for its natural beauty while intercity rail takes people to and from work every day. All railroad transportation is governed by the United States Department[/box]
[box type="shadow"]Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration was founded in 1966 as part of the USDOT and is intended to govern all aspects of railroad travel. As of 2011, the FRA is only one of ten active agencies within the USDOT concerned with intermodal (using one or more carriers) transportation.
The FRA’s Office of Railroad Safety is responsible for promoting and regulating safety throughout the railway system. As of 2011, 400 inspectors were assigned to one of five disciplines (areas) depending upon their individual expertise. These disciplines include: hazardous materials, motive power equipment, operating practices, signal and train control and track and structures.
Office of Public Affairs
The FRA’s Office of Public Affairs is responsible for disseminating information through a variety of print and electronic news outlets. This office works closely with other USDOT entities to promote the Administration’s public policy objectives.
The Office of Financial Management and Administration coordinates administrative programs for the FRA. Some departments within RAD include Human Resources, Information Technology and Financial Management. RAD is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of management reforms.
Policy and Development
The Office of Railroad Policy and Development is responsible for federal investment and assistance to the railroad industry. The office also oversees the development and implementation of policies concerning intercity and high-speed rail. It sponsors research and development into new technologies for railway work and safety.
The Office of Civil Rights provides leadership, guidance and support to the FRA’s offices and other departments to ensure effective and diverse policies are in place and observed across the organization as well as to external customers.
The Office of Chief Counsel’s Safety Law Division is the legal arm of the FRA’s overall safety program. This office develops and writes rail safety regulations, and assesses penalties and fines for violations of the rail safety statutes.
State Railrway Departments
Although all state railway departments ultimately fall under the FRA’s jurisdiction, each state has its own department of transportation to assist in the management of rail. State rail departments generally share responsibilities in railroad crossing management. Additionally, the FRA’s Rail State Safety Participation Program allows states to enter into an agreement with FRA for the delegation of specified authority including investigative and surveillance authority regarding all or any part of Federal railroad safety laws. In 2011, 30 states participated in this program.