Skip to main content
  • Click to open or close the program search boxShow Me Programs
    • Show me the programs that are
      performing Go
    • Show me the programs that are
Program Assessment


View Assessment Details

Railroad Safety Program

The Railroad Safety Program (RSP) promotes, administers, and enforces the Federal laws and regulations designed to improve safety on the Nation's railroads. The Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) oversight focuses on five safety "disciplines" -- track, equipment, operating practices, signals, and hazardous materials.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • The Railroad Safety Program has been moderately effective in reducing rail related accidents. The railroad industry's overall safety record has improved over the last decade and most safety trends are moving in the right direction. However, significant train accidents continue to occur, and the train accident rate has not shown substantive improvement in recent years.
  • Since the late 1980s, FRA's five primary safety indicators have shown significant gains, despite increases in rail traffic. For example, rail related injuries per million train miles has fallen from 45 in 1987 to 15 in 2002. Rail hazmat releases per billion hazmat ton miles has fallen from 20 in 1996 to 11 in 2001 and during this time train miles increased from 581 million to 728 million.
  • The program attempts to use its resources strategically to cover an immense system. FRA's few hundred rail safety inspectors cannot directly monitor all rail infrastructure and activities. Instead, FRA inspectors work with the railroads to ensure they follow proper safety guidelines through inspections, railroad audits, and enforcement tools that include civil penalties.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Implementing FRA's recently developed National Rail Safety Action Plan, which targets the greatest accident risk factors, focuses oversight and inspection resources, and speeds critical research.
  • Developing an efficiency measure for the rail safety program.
  • Scheduling an independently conducted evaluation of program effectiveness.

Learn More

The content on is developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and Federal agencies.