This report examines the adequacy of the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA's) enforcement program. Specifically, it examines whether the program (1) encourages compliance with safety regulations; (2) is being properly implemented; and (3) is timely in reviewing, transmitting, and settling penalties. Findings, in brief, are as follows: FRA's enforcement program is not effective in ensuring that the nation's railroads comply with federal safety regulations. Over the past 5 years, FRA has found an increasing number of safety detects and violations despite an overall decline in railroad equipment, track, and employment. In addition, the same types of safety problems recurred, such as defective track that could lead to derailments, inadequate attention to operating rules and practices that could lead to accidents, and unsafe locomotives. Further, although FRA's policy is that inspectors should uniformly apply safety regulations, it was found that the inspectors did not do so. Finally, FRA does not review, transmit, and settle civil penalties in a timely manner. At the end of 1989, FRA took 36 months to settle civil penalties--16 months longer than in 1982 when GAO first examined the issue. One reason for the lengthy process is that FRA had a backlog of about 24,000 violations awaiting legal review and/or settlement.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1991-3

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Tables;
  • Pagination: 28 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00607622
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-91-72
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 30 1991 12:00AM