RAILROAD / Administrative Rule – Federal Railroad Administration proposes to require railroads to inventory to U.S. DOT all the highway-rail and pathway crossings over which they operate. Key here: Collisions at these sites a major source of railroad negligence tort suits.

New “National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory Reporting Requirements” 

January 24, 2013, Announcement of Public Hearing and Extension of Comment Period.

This meeting follows up on a Notice of proposed rulemaking issued in the Federal Register October 18, 2012. 

“FRA is proposing to require railroads to submit information to the U.S. DOT National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory about highway-rail crossings and pathway crossings over which they operate. These amendments, which are required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), would require railroads to submit information about previously unreported and new public and private highway-rail crossings and pathway crossings to the U.S. DOT National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory and to periodically update the Inventory.” 

“FRA is proposing amendments to 49 CFR Part 234 which would require railroads to submit information to the U.S. DOT National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory (Crossing Inventory) about both public and private highway-rail crossings and pathway crossings over which they operate. These proposed amendments are intended to further FRA’s efforts to improve existing data on the characteristics of the Nation’s public, private, and pathway crossings and are intended to implement section 204(a) of the RSIA. Consistent with the statute, FRA is proposing to require that railroads submit initial reports to the Crossing Inventory, including current information about warning devices and signage, for each previously unreported and new public and private highway-rail crossing and pathway crossing, and that railroads periodically update that information, including the submission of updated ownership information after the sale of a crossing.

FRA has estimated the costs of this rule, evaluated over a 20-year period and using a discount rate of 7 percent. For the 20-year period analyzed, the estimated quantified cost that would be imposed on industry totals $2.1 million with a present value (PV, 7 percent) of $1.5 million. FRA considered the industry costs associated with requiring railroads to establish and maintain an inventory for all public and private highway-rail crossings and pathway crossings. Many railroads have already implemented components of the proposed rule. FRA estimates that as many as 50 percent of all highway-rail crossings are currently updated in the Crossing Inventory. The requirements that are expected to impose the largest burdens relate to the collection of recent information and to the periodic update of the inventory.

The table below presents the estimated costs associated with the proposed rulemaking:

20-Year Cost for Proposed Rule Back to Top

Initial Update of Inventory $874,280
Periodic Update of Inventory 646,856
Total 1,521,136
Future costs are discounted to present value using a 7 percent discount rate.

“FRA anticipates that this rulemaking will increase the accuracy, precision, completeness, and utility of railroad records and will improve the Crossing Inventory. This would allow FRA to identify highway-rail crossings and pathway crossings not currently recorded in the existing voluntary crossing inventory. FRA believes that such clarification in the inventory would help offset costs associated with the rulemaking by simplifying the reporting process. FRA conducted a break-even analysis of the rule and believes that potential benefits from the proposal would likely equal or exceed total costs?