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Are Railroad Jobs About to Get Safer?

Federal Transit Administration proposes mandatory minimum safety standards to protect track workers.


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would create new safety standards for Rail Transit Roadway Worker Protection (RWP). At Railtowns United, we see this proposal as a step in the right direction, ensuring that transit employees who live and work in our communities are able to perform their jobs safely.


The Heart of the Matter

The FTA's proposal is an enhancement to the safety and integrity of the rail transit industry. By setting minimum safety standards, the initiative looks to reduce fatalities and injuries among transit workers, who often work on or near railroad activity. This is relevant for our member communities, where rail operations are part of daily life, impacting not just the workers but the overall safety culture within our towns.


Key Features of the NPRM

The proposed rule covers rail transit agencies under the State Safety Oversight (SSO) program and introduces a few key measures:


  • A detailed RWP program and manual for agencies, enabling clarity and consistency in safety practices.

  • Stringent track access guidelines and on-track safety protocols to protect workers during their duties.

  • An emphasis on in-depth training and qualification programs, ensuring workers are well-prepared to work in hazardous rail transit environments.


Economic analysis suggests that it would prevent about 1.4 fatalities and 3.9 serious injuries annually among transit workers.


Implications for Railtowns United Communities

For our member communities, the ripple effects of this proposal extend beyond the immediate safety of transit workers. Enhanced safety standards can bring about a culture of safety that benefits everyone in our communities. Their safety improves our safety.

The proposal seems to align well with Railtowns United's mission to advocate for infrastructure and technological solutions that enhance the safety and viability of railtowns. 


So, What’s Next?

At first reading, this proposal appears to be a promising step forward, but it’s not yet finalized.



If you’re interested in supporting or changing the proposal, you can post your opinions to the Federal Register comment docket until May 24, 2024 here: https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FTA-2023-0024-0001

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