U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater: Railroad Administration Collected $6 Million in Civil Penalties
Friday, October 29, 1999 (Washington, DC)
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today announced that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has reached settlements of issued orders that will result in the collection of approximately $6 million in civil penalty assessments against the major carriers, shippers of hazardous materials, and small railroads in fiscal year 1999.
"Enforcement of safety regulations provides for public safety, which is President Clinton=s highest transportation priority," said Secretary Slater. "These fines represent a significant means that the Administration employs to make the nation=s railroad industry the safest it can be."
The settlement total this year, which is substantially more than the totals collected in the previous two fiscal years, includes approximately $4.6 million in fines against the major railroad carriers and approximately $1.4 million against the small railroads and hazardous material shippers.
The FRA issues civil penalties for violations of established safety regulations that involve all areas of railroad safety: track, signal and train control, brake equipment and procedures, locomotive and freight car equipment standards, the transportation of hazardous materials, operating practices, alcohol and drug testing procedures, hours of service, roadway worker protection, locomotive engineer certification, and accident reporting. In most cases, the railroads and shippers subject to the fines agree to pay the civil penalties in lieu of litigation.
In some cases, FRA reduces the initial civil penalty amount in consideration of mitigating factors, such as remedial measures taken by the company to prevent the act from recurring, the relative safety hazard presented in the violation report, the compliance history of the company, and the company=s ability to pay the assessment.
"The FRA takes an aggressive but reasonable approach in the enforcement program, focusing on the most serious and persistent safety violations," said FRA Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris. "This approach, combined with our focus on eradicating the root causes of safety concerns, will help us reach our goal of zero tolerance for incidents, injuries and fatalities."
Molitoris said that, although FRA is having great success in improving safety and compliance with the law through partnerships with management and labor in the Safety Assurance and Compliance Program, civil penalties and other enforcement tools are also important to assure full compliance with the law and to make the nation=s railroads as safe as possible.
This effort was the result of the work of 16 trial attorneys and FRA safety inspectors and specialists working throughout the United States.