American Association of Railroads

AAR applauds FRA Track Inspection Modernization Rule

Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a final rule that facilitates the widespread deployment of continuous rail inspection technology across the 140,000-mile freight rail network. For years, railroads have operated continuous rail inspection technology under longstanding waivers and demonstrated this innovation’s promise to advance safety and efficiency along the nation’s rail network. The new rule codifies those waivers and makes other important regulatory reforms.

Ian Jefferies headshot

Ian Jefferies

“Continuous rail inspection is a proven, tested solution to efficiently and effectively monitor and maintain track health,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “FRA’s common sense, the data-driven decision will empower railroads to more broadly adopt this technology and increase the mileage of track inspected across the network. Freight railroads are grateful for this important regulatory modernization that will help drive further innovation and safety advancements in the industry.”

Traditional stop-and-verify rail inspection required an operator in the test vehicle to stop to verify each potential rail defect. With the new rule, rail inspection equipment will instead be able to collect and transmit inspection data nonstop to remote locations for analysis. Should potentially serious defects be detected, inspectors will still stop immediately to confirm and address the issue. Otherwise, detected defects will then be categorized based upon potential risk, confirmed in-person, and repaired.