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Overview:

Located within the Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is responsible for developing and enforcing railroad safety regulations. FRA also administers railroad assistance programs, conducts research and development to support improved railroad safety and helps rehabilitate the Northeast Corridor rail passenger service. By consolidating government support for safe rail travel nationwide, FRA makes sure that safe and effective rail travel is available to all.

more
History:

Plans for a unified department of transportation in the US government go back to President Thomas Jefferson’s administration. His Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, tried to enlist the help of the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to develop a cohesive plan that would facilitate transportation, especially in support of increased trade. In 1808, Gallatin recommended that the federal government subsidize internal improvements like the National Road. But no solid attempt came about to create a cabinet-level transportation department until the 1960s.

 
In 1965, Najeeb Halaby, administrator of the then-independent Federal Aviation Agency, proposed consolidating his agency with other transportation-related agencies in order to facilitate sharing of information, contracts and resources. Charles Schultze, director of the Bureau of the Budget, and Joseph A. Califano, Jr., special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, pushed for the new department. On October 22, 1965, a federal task force submitted recommendations that advocated for a Department of Transportation that would include the Federal Aviation Agency, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Coast Guard, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Great Lakes Pilotage Association, the Car Service Division of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the subsidy function of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Panama Canal.
 
President Johnson agreed, and after some modifications, sent Congress a bill to establish the Department of Transportation (DOT), charged with coordinating and managing transportation programs. President Johnson hoped to increase transportation safety through the work of DOT, which included not only existing agencies drawn from other federal departments but also new offices. One of the newly created offices within DOT was the Federal Railroad Administration, which was to help improve safety in the railroad industry.

more
What it Does:

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is one of 10 offices in the Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal travel. FRA’s responsibilities include developing and enforcing safety regulations relating to railway travel in the United States. The agency administers railroad assistance programs, conducts research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national railroad transportation policy and provides for the rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger service. In addition, FRA consolidates government support of rail transportation activities. 

 
FRA is organized into seven divisions, each with unique responsibilities. Each division operates through the offices of the administrator and deputy administrator. The seven divisions are:
Railroad Development is responsible for federal investment and assistance to the rail industry, as well as the development and implementation of administration policy relative to intercity rail passenger service and high-speed rail. The office sponsors research and development activities to advance science and technology for railroad safety and offers investment opportunities for small freight railroad projects through the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program.
 
Safetypromotes and regulates safety throughout the nation’s railroads. Federal safety inspectors operate out of eight regional offices and specialize in six safety disciplines and numerous grade crossing and trespassing prevention initiatives, including: Signal and Train Control; Track and Structures; Motive Power and Equipment; Operating Practices; Hazardous Materials; and Industrial Hygiene. The office also deals with Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety. The office trains and certifies safety inspectors to enforce rail safety regulations and also helps to analyze railroad accidents to determine trends in railroad safety. The work culminates in the collection of data and conversion into statistic tables, charts and reports. 
 
Administration and Finance is responsible for directing and coordinating the administrative programs and service of the FRA. Sub-offices include: Human Resources; Information Technology; Acquisition and Grants Services; Financial Services; and Budget. The office is also responsible for coordinating government-wide management reforms.
 
Chief Counsel includes the Safety Law Division, which is responsible for developing and drafting the agency’s safety regulations, as well as assessing civil penalties for violations of safety regulations. The General Law Division provides legal services to FRA’s various offices on issues such as the Freedom of Information Act, Federal Tort Claims Act and the Surface Transportation Board.
 
Civil Rightsprovides leadership, policy guidance, support and coordination of FRA’s various offices and external customers to ensure effective and consistent civil rights programs. The OCR program processes internal and external complaints, assists with minority interns and special observances and oversees diversity functions.
 
Policy and Communicationsincludes the Office of Policy and the Office of Public Affairs. Policy provides analysis and recommendations on railroad business matters, including mergers and restructuring, economic regulation, rail economics, financial health, traffic patterns and network analysis, management issues, freight data and operations, intermodalism, environmental issues and international programs. Public Affairs coordinates with other agency departments in developing information for release to a variety of print and electronic news outlets and to the general public.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Federal Railway Administration spent nearly $295 million on 1,127 contractors this decade. According to USASpending.gov, the FRA paid for a variety of services, from automatic data processing equipment to professional, administrative and management support services. The top 10 contractors are as follows:

Ensco, Inc.

$92,126,789
Association of American Railroads
$40,253,972
Qinetiq North America Operations LLC
$19,051,393
Sharma & Associates, Inc.
$9,797,728
Creative Information Technologies, Inc.
$8,986,725
Maden Tech Consulting, Inc.
$8,249,505
GTSI Corp.
$6,024,683
Indus Corporation
$5,993,970
SAIC, Inc.
$5,354,229
The Ventura Group, Inc.
$4,259,778
 
Ensco, Inc., the agency’s largest contractor, is a company specializing in advanced safety technologies for the transportation industry. They service the aeronautics, avionics, chem-bio defense, enterprise protection, GPS-denied geolocation and navigation, healthcare, rail, security, technical, underground facility and object characterization and weather decision industries. Ensco regularly contracts with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense on a number of initiatives.

more
Controversies:

DK&E Expansion Nixed for Coal Hauling

In April 2007, the future of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad was left uncertain when the FRA turned down its request for a $2.3 billion loan to finance an expansion into Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin. Although the Rochester Coalition and the Mayo Clinic have received approximately 12 pounds of DM&E records requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the records were not released until the groups sued the FRA to enforce the FOIA request. The railroad has suspended development work on the southern bypass for the time being. Some have speculated that billionaire investor Warren Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway’s part-ownership in rival coal-transporting railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe might have something to do with the FRA’s decision.
DM&E: The Saga Continues (by Leigh Pomeroy, Minnesota Monitor)  

more

Comments

Rudy Caparros 2 weeks ago
Support hazmat technicians. Ask DOT to consider adding secondary containment, top-fitting protection to rail tank cars that are used to transport chlorine gas. Secondary containment will eliminate hazards associated with the use of The Chlorine Institute "C"-Kit. This will provide needed safety to First Responders and the public. See Hazmat Responders Comments @ www.petitionckit.com DOT Contact @ magdy.el-sibaie@dot.gov
hugh e bishop 2 years ago
i live in sacramento ca,approximately 300 yards from the southern pacific main railroad tracks.over a month ago rail crews were working on the portion of tracks which bridge 12th ave coming into sacramento.now everysince this work was done,every fright car screams with such a high pitch as it crosses the section of bridge that was (repaired?)it has begun to keep me up at night and i also believe it should be looked into.something isnt right.i'am going on 3 years living here and i ne...
danny 3 years ago
we booked our train from carlinville, il to chicago, il for the purpose of attending a st. louis cardinal and chicago cub game scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. our train was scheduled to arrive in chicago at 12:20 p.m. leaving us more than enough time to check into our motel, and arrive at the game in plenty of time. we purchased four tickets in the pnc club which cost us $300 a piece. not only was our train three hours late arriving in chicago, we had to tolerate numerous drunks ...
Wanda Raybon 4 years ago
On May 21, 2010 I was crossing the railroad tracks at 9th Ave between St. Charles and Main streets between 12:45 and 12:54 PM, in the surburb of Maywood, Illinois. As I was crossing the flashing red lights started and the gates begain to descend. At this point I sped up to clear the tracks and I looked to my left and there was an oncoming train less than 100 feet away. This both alarmed and frightened me because I had lost two close relatives to train crossing deaths in one month...

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Founded: 1966
Annual Budget: $1.06 billion
Employees: 800
Official Website: http://www.fra.dot.gov/
Federal Railroad Administration
Szabo, Joe
Administrator

Joe Szabo, the first union official ever to lead the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), was confirmed on April 29, 2009. Until his appointment, he worked since the mid-1990s as the top lobbyist in Illinois for the nation’s largest railroad workers union. He also has ties to Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former Democratic governor of Illinois who was impeached because of accusations of corruption and influence peddling.

 
A fifth-generation railroader whose ancestors worked for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, as well as the Wabash and Illinois Central (IC) Railroads, Szabo, 51, was first introduced to the railroads by his father, who worked as an IC switchman and a union officer for 14 years. While still in high school, he helped his dad with his bookkeeping work as secretary/treasurer of Local 1299 of the United Transportation Union (UTU), the nation’s largest railroad union.
 
Szabo’s first railroad job was with the IC in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter passenger conductor. He then became an employee of Metra when IC sold its Commuter Division in 1987.
 
In 1984, he followed in his father’s footsteps by winning election as secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290. Szabo later progressed to become Local 1290’s delegate and legislative representative, eventually winning election as vice chairman of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board in 1991. During this same time period, he earned his bachelor’s degree in labor relations from Governors State University in 1990.
 
In February 1996 he became state legislative director for UTU, making him the union’s top lobbyist in Illinois. In October 2006 he was appointed a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, and in October 2008 was elected to a full four-year term, while still remaining as state legislative director.
 
From January 15, 2009, until his confirmation as head of the FRA three months later, Szabo was on interim assignment to UTU’s National Legislative Office in Washington, DC, serving as Alternate National Legislative Director, following the death of the union’s top federal lobbyist.
 
Under Szabo the UTU in Illinois wrestled with Canadian National Railway over hours-of-service rules, and Iowa Interstate Railroad over who could run a locomotive on its main line. At other times, the union battled Norfolk Southern Railway, Indiana Harbor Belt Railway, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and Alton & Southern Railway.
 
Parallel with his union work, Szabo has been active in local government in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale, home to several large rail operations, serving 10 years as a Village Trustee before becoming mayor from 1997-2000. He also served as a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee and vice chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee.
 
Following the 2002 gubernatorial election of Rod Blagojevich (D), Szabo co-chaired the Freight Rail Subcommittee of the new governor’s transition team. In 2005, Szabo was assigned by the UTU International to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee, where he participated in the drafting of rail-safety regulations.
 
In addition, he held an advisory position on the State of Illinois Growth Task Force, and served on the Executive Council of Chicago Metropolis 2020, as a member of Business Leaders for Transportation, and as a member of the legislative advisory committee for the Metropolitan Planning Council.
 
It’s no surprise that Szabo was tabbed by Obama to join his administration. In addition to being a well-known lobbyist in Illinois, Szabo made sure UTU members walked precincts in support of the President’s 2008 campaign.
 
Obama Taps Joe Szabo to Head FRA (Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen)
Rails See Safety Switch (by John D. Boyd, Journal of Commerce Magazine)
more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

Located within the Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is responsible for developing and enforcing railroad safety regulations. FRA also administers railroad assistance programs, conducts research and development to support improved railroad safety and helps rehabilitate the Northeast Corridor rail passenger service. By consolidating government support for safe rail travel nationwide, FRA makes sure that safe and effective rail travel is available to all.

more
History:

Plans for a unified department of transportation in the US government go back to President Thomas Jefferson’s administration. His Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, tried to enlist the help of the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to develop a cohesive plan that would facilitate transportation, especially in support of increased trade. In 1808, Gallatin recommended that the federal government subsidize internal improvements like the National Road. But no solid attempt came about to create a cabinet-level transportation department until the 1960s.

 
In 1965, Najeeb Halaby, administrator of the then-independent Federal Aviation Agency, proposed consolidating his agency with other transportation-related agencies in order to facilitate sharing of information, contracts and resources. Charles Schultze, director of the Bureau of the Budget, and Joseph A. Califano, Jr., special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, pushed for the new department. On October 22, 1965, a federal task force submitted recommendations that advocated for a Department of Transportation that would include the Federal Aviation Agency, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Coast Guard, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Great Lakes Pilotage Association, the Car Service Division of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the subsidy function of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Panama Canal.
 
President Johnson agreed, and after some modifications, sent Congress a bill to establish the Department of Transportation (DOT), charged with coordinating and managing transportation programs. President Johnson hoped to increase transportation safety through the work of DOT, which included not only existing agencies drawn from other federal departments but also new offices. One of the newly created offices within DOT was the Federal Railroad Administration, which was to help improve safety in the railroad industry.

more
What it Does:

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is one of 10 offices in the Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal travel. FRA’s responsibilities include developing and enforcing safety regulations relating to railway travel in the United States. The agency administers railroad assistance programs, conducts research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national railroad transportation policy and provides for the rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger service. In addition, FRA consolidates government support of rail transportation activities. 

 
FRA is organized into seven divisions, each with unique responsibilities. Each division operates through the offices of the administrator and deputy administrator. The seven divisions are:
Railroad Development is responsible for federal investment and assistance to the rail industry, as well as the development and implementation of administration policy relative to intercity rail passenger service and high-speed rail. The office sponsors research and development activities to advance science and technology for railroad safety and offers investment opportunities for small freight railroad projects through the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program.
 
Safetypromotes and regulates safety throughout the nation’s railroads. Federal safety inspectors operate out of eight regional offices and specialize in six safety disciplines and numerous grade crossing and trespassing prevention initiatives, including: Signal and Train Control; Track and Structures; Motive Power and Equipment; Operating Practices; Hazardous Materials; and Industrial Hygiene. The office also deals with Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety. The office trains and certifies safety inspectors to enforce rail safety regulations and also helps to analyze railroad accidents to determine trends in railroad safety. The work culminates in the collection of data and conversion into statistic tables, charts and reports. 
 
Administration and Finance is responsible for directing and coordinating the administrative programs and service of the FRA. Sub-offices include: Human Resources; Information Technology; Acquisition and Grants Services; Financial Services; and Budget. The office is also responsible for coordinating government-wide management reforms.
 
Chief Counsel includes the Safety Law Division, which is responsible for developing and drafting the agency’s safety regulations, as well as assessing civil penalties for violations of safety regulations. The General Law Division provides legal services to FRA’s various offices on issues such as the Freedom of Information Act, Federal Tort Claims Act and the Surface Transportation Board.
 
Civil Rightsprovides leadership, policy guidance, support and coordination of FRA’s various offices and external customers to ensure effective and consistent civil rights programs. The OCR program processes internal and external complaints, assists with minority interns and special observances and oversees diversity functions.
 
Policy and Communicationsincludes the Office of Policy and the Office of Public Affairs. Policy provides analysis and recommendations on railroad business matters, including mergers and restructuring, economic regulation, rail economics, financial health, traffic patterns and network analysis, management issues, freight data and operations, intermodalism, environmental issues and international programs. Public Affairs coordinates with other agency departments in developing information for release to a variety of print and electronic news outlets and to the general public.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Federal Railway Administration spent nearly $295 million on 1,127 contractors this decade. According to USASpending.gov, the FRA paid for a variety of services, from automatic data processing equipment to professional, administrative and management support services. The top 10 contractors are as follows:

Ensco, Inc.

$92,126,789
Association of American Railroads
$40,253,972
Qinetiq North America Operations LLC
$19,051,393
Sharma & Associates, Inc.
$9,797,728
Creative Information Technologies, Inc.
$8,986,725
Maden Tech Consulting, Inc.
$8,249,505
GTSI Corp.
$6,024,683
Indus Corporation
$5,993,970
SAIC, Inc.
$5,354,229
The Ventura Group, Inc.
$4,259,778
 
Ensco, Inc., the agency’s largest contractor, is a company specializing in advanced safety technologies for the transportation industry. They service the aeronautics, avionics, chem-bio defense, enterprise protection, GPS-denied geolocation and navigation, healthcare, rail, security, technical, underground facility and object characterization and weather decision industries. Ensco regularly contracts with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense on a number of initiatives.

more
Controversies:

DK&E Expansion Nixed for Coal Hauling

In April 2007, the future of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad was left uncertain when the FRA turned down its request for a $2.3 billion loan to finance an expansion into Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin. Although the Rochester Coalition and the Mayo Clinic have received approximately 12 pounds of DM&E records requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the records were not released until the groups sued the FRA to enforce the FOIA request. The railroad has suspended development work on the southern bypass for the time being. Some have speculated that billionaire investor Warren Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway’s part-ownership in rival coal-transporting railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe might have something to do with the FRA’s decision.
DM&E: The Saga Continues (by Leigh Pomeroy, Minnesota Monitor)  

more

Comments

Rudy Caparros 2 weeks ago
Support hazmat technicians. Ask DOT to consider adding secondary containment, top-fitting protection to rail tank cars that are used to transport chlorine gas. Secondary containment will eliminate hazards associated with the use of The Chlorine Institute "C"-Kit. This will provide needed safety to First Responders and the public. See Hazmat Responders Comments @ www.petitionckit.com DOT Contact @ magdy.el-sibaie@dot.gov
hugh e bishop 2 years ago
i live in sacramento ca,approximately 300 yards from the southern pacific main railroad tracks.over a month ago rail crews were working on the portion of tracks which bridge 12th ave coming into sacramento.now everysince this work was done,every fright car screams with such a high pitch as it crosses the section of bridge that was (repaired?)it has begun to keep me up at night and i also believe it should be looked into.something isnt right.i'am going on 3 years living here and i ne...
danny 3 years ago
we booked our train from carlinville, il to chicago, il for the purpose of attending a st. louis cardinal and chicago cub game scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. our train was scheduled to arrive in chicago at 12:20 p.m. leaving us more than enough time to check into our motel, and arrive at the game in plenty of time. we purchased four tickets in the pnc club which cost us $300 a piece. not only was our train three hours late arriving in chicago, we had to tolerate numerous drunks ...
Wanda Raybon 4 years ago
On May 21, 2010 I was crossing the railroad tracks at 9th Ave between St. Charles and Main streets between 12:45 and 12:54 PM, in the surburb of Maywood, Illinois. As I was crossing the flashing red lights started and the gates begain to descend. At this point I sped up to clear the tracks and I looked to my left and there was an oncoming train less than 100 feet away. This both alarmed and frightened me because I had lost two close relatives to train crossing deaths in one month...

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1966
Annual Budget: $1.06 billion
Employees: 800
Official Website: http://www.fra.dot.gov/
Federal Railroad Administration
Szabo, Joe
Administrator

Joe Szabo, the first union official ever to lead the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), was confirmed on April 29, 2009. Until his appointment, he worked since the mid-1990s as the top lobbyist in Illinois for the nation’s largest railroad workers union. He also has ties to Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former Democratic governor of Illinois who was impeached because of accusations of corruption and influence peddling.

 
A fifth-generation railroader whose ancestors worked for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, as well as the Wabash and Illinois Central (IC) Railroads, Szabo, 51, was first introduced to the railroads by his father, who worked as an IC switchman and a union officer for 14 years. While still in high school, he helped his dad with his bookkeeping work as secretary/treasurer of Local 1299 of the United Transportation Union (UTU), the nation’s largest railroad union.
 
Szabo’s first railroad job was with the IC in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter passenger conductor. He then became an employee of Metra when IC sold its Commuter Division in 1987.
 
In 1984, he followed in his father’s footsteps by winning election as secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290. Szabo later progressed to become Local 1290’s delegate and legislative representative, eventually winning election as vice chairman of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board in 1991. During this same time period, he earned his bachelor’s degree in labor relations from Governors State University in 1990.
 
In February 1996 he became state legislative director for UTU, making him the union’s top lobbyist in Illinois. In October 2006 he was appointed a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, and in October 2008 was elected to a full four-year term, while still remaining as state legislative director.
 
From January 15, 2009, until his confirmation as head of the FRA three months later, Szabo was on interim assignment to UTU’s National Legislative Office in Washington, DC, serving as Alternate National Legislative Director, following the death of the union’s top federal lobbyist.
 
Under Szabo the UTU in Illinois wrestled with Canadian National Railway over hours-of-service rules, and Iowa Interstate Railroad over who could run a locomotive on its main line. At other times, the union battled Norfolk Southern Railway, Indiana Harbor Belt Railway, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and Alton & Southern Railway.
 
Parallel with his union work, Szabo has been active in local government in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale, home to several large rail operations, serving 10 years as a Village Trustee before becoming mayor from 1997-2000. He also served as a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee and vice chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee.
 
Following the 2002 gubernatorial election of Rod Blagojevich (D), Szabo co-chaired the Freight Rail Subcommittee of the new governor’s transition team. In 2005, Szabo was assigned by the UTU International to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee, where he participated in the drafting of rail-safety regulations.
 
In addition, he held an advisory position on the State of Illinois Growth Task Force, and served on the Executive Council of Chicago Metropolis 2020, as a member of Business Leaders for Transportation, and as a member of the legislative advisory committee for the Metropolitan Planning Council.
 
It’s no surprise that Szabo was tabbed by Obama to join his administration. In addition to being a well-known lobbyist in Illinois, Szabo made sure UTU members walked precincts in support of the President’s 2008 campaign.
 
Obama Taps Joe Szabo to Head FRA (Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen)
Rails See Safety Switch (by John D. Boyd, Journal of Commerce Magazine)
more