With 2012 here, we've been sharing some of the top accomplishments of 2011 from each of DOT's operating agencies. Today, in our final year-in-review, we look at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The Federal Railroad Administration enforces rail safety regulations, administers railroad assistance programs, and conducts research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy. From cargo, crew, and passenger safety to high-speed rail, the agency’s many accomplishments in 2011 are a testament to the hard work FRA professionals demonstrate in pursuit of their mission.
Here is a brief sample of those accomplishments:
- New Positive Train Control regulations allow flexibility and save money while ensuring safety. FRA amended regulations governing the installation of positive train control equipment, a technology that increases rail safety and efficiency by monitoring and controlling train movements. The new regulations will provide greater flexibility to railroads and save hundreds of millions of dollars even as they improve rail safety.
- FRA formed partnerships to assist businesses and create jobs. FRA launched two initiatives to create new opportunities for American businesses and make it easier for them to do business with the government. The Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee includes representatives from FRA, Amtrak, freight railroad companies, rail manufacturers, states, and other passenger railroad operators. The committee will develop the first-ever uniform specifications for equipment to be used on our next-generation rail corridors. This will create an even playing field for companies building the same equipment--using American workers.
FRA also teamed up with the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help revitalize American railway manufacturing. By ensuring that manufacturers meet DOT’s strict “Buy America” standards, the partnership will boost the creation of American manufacturing jobs and opportunities for 34,000 U.S. suppliers through federal transportation investments.
- High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail construction is under way, creating jobs and spurring growth. In just 30 months, FRA has taken the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program from vision to execution. During this time, FRA has signed over 148 grant agreements totaling $9.4 billion. These grant agreements mean workers are laying rail; American suppliers are receiving new orders; and states have begun procuring next-generation, American-made trains. Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia are building the foundation for high-speed rail corridors that will connect Americans with faster, more energy-efficient travel options.
Congratulations to Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and the entire FRA team for a 2011 marked by significant accomplishments. As 2012 shapes up to be a year of significant high speed rail activity, I am confident that these dedicated public servants will continue to deliver for the American people.