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12/5/2006



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA proposes to double civil fines for most safety regulation violations



The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is proposing to increase civil penalties assessed against railroads that violate federal rail safety regulations. The penalty revisions — which would double fines for most violations — would be the first since 1988.

The FRA evaluated more than 2,000 regulation provisions using a five-point severity scale, which determined the likelihood of an accident or incident occurring because of a railroad’s failure to comply with a particular provision. Under the proposal, most fines would increase, but others would remain unchanged or be reduced if a violation poses less of a safety risk, the FRA said.

Civil penalties would increase to $1,500 at the low end of the new scale and $8,500 at the high end, such as for a violation likely to result in an accident or incident, the administration said. Willful violation fines would range from $2,500 to $11,000, and the current statutory maximum of $27,000 for “grossly negligent” or repeated violations would remain unchanged.

“Higher fines across all categories of federal regulations will encourage railroads to focus on safety compliance and improve the rail industry’s overall performance,” said FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

The FRA is accepting public comments on the proposal until Jan. 4.


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