USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Accident Data, Reporting, and Investigations

Accident/Incident Data

Regulations on reporting railroad accidents and incidents can be found in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 225, Railroad Accidents/Incidents, Reports Classification, and Investigations. The purpose of the regulations is to provide FRA with accurate information concerning the hazards and risks that exist on the Nation’s railroads. FRA needs this information to effectively carry out its regulatory and enforcement responsibilities under the Federal railroad safety statutes. FRA also uses this information to determine comparative trends of railroad safety and to develop hazard elimination and risk reduction programs that focus on preventing railroad injuries and accidents.

FRA collects and analyzes the data from the Nation’s railroads and converts this information into meaningful statistical tables, charts, and reports that you can find on the FRA Safety Data site.

 Accident/Incident Reporting Responsibility of Railroads to FRA

The primary groups of accidents and incidents to be reported monthly by railroads are the following:

  • Highway-rail grade crossing accidents/incidents.
  • Rail equipment accidents/incidents.
  • Casualties to persons (i.e., death and non-fatal injuries to all types of persons, and occupational illnesses involving railroad employees).

In addition to monthly railroad-reported accidents and incidents, railroads are required to provide FRA with immediate notification of various types of accidents. This notification is routed through the National Response Center, which notifies FRA of such accidents on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis. 

See definitions and requirements for reporting and/or recordkeeping in 49 CFR Part 225 and FRA's Guide for Preparing Accident Incident Reports.

FRA Accident Investigations General Criteria

FRA generally investigates accidents and incidents meeting the following criteria:

  • A collision, derailment, or passenger train incident resulting in at least one fatality or serious injury to railroad passengers or crew members
  • All railroad employee fatalities
  • Certain highway-rail grade crossing collisions resulting in:
    • A death of one or more persons in a commercial motor vehicle or school bus, or serious injuries sustained by several persons transported by such vehicles
    • No fatality, but involving credible evidence of a malfunction or failure of an active warning device that is alleged to have contributed to or caused the accident
  • Incidents involving Amtrak passenger trains
  • Train accidents resulting in damages to track or equipment exceeding $1 million
  • Train accidents resulting in the derailment of a locomotive and/or large number of cars, resulting in extensive property damage
  • Accidents resulting in a serious fire, explosion, or unintended release of hazardous materials, and incidents involving an evacuation, especially if it poses an imminent safety hazard to persons in the surrounding locale
  • Train accident involving the transport of nuclear or radioactive materials
  • Incidents involving run-away equipment, with or without locomotives
  • Collisions between trains and maintenance-of-way or hi-rail equipment
  • Incidents caused by a person coming in contact with an electrical power source that result in a serious injury or death of one or more persons
  • Incidents that arouse considerable public interest

 For additional information on FRA accident investigations, click here.