Washington, D.C. – May 7, 2018 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) filed comments with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today regarding enhancements to rail safety and reliability through automation. Across the industry, automated technology is already reducing or removing the impact of human error, but regulatory barriers to reaping its full benefits remain.

“While railroading in America is safer than ever, we are at an inflection point and further progress requires a paradigm shift,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Emerging automated technology now makes it possible to envision, and more importantly build, a future free from the cause of one-third of all train accidents – human error. The Department of Transportation has encouraged the development and deployment of this game-changing technology in other transportation sectors, and we hope this is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how it can be put to work across the world’s best freight rail network.”

Technology has already yielded dramatic rail safety benefits and promises to produce greater improvements in the future. Automated track inspections and wayside detectors have been able to pinpoint track and equipment defects that would escape the human eye, so they can be addressed before an accident can occur. Additionally, Positive Train Control (PTC) is, at its core, an automated backup system that will prevent accidents caused by certain types of human error.

AAR’s comments call for the Department of Transportation to take the same supportive regulatory approach with railroads that they have with the automation of trucks and cars. Railroads share the Department’s safety goals and are poised to innovate in this area if the regulatory climate does not discourage them from doing so. Automation can and will enhance the safety of the rail network, and the railroads are anxious to work with regulators to facilitate its implementation.


For more information contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected] or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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