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Managed by Paul J. Loftus, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Transportation Law Today provides professionals in the rail, transit, inland maritime, and trucking industries with current news and analysis of laws, rulings, and regulatory policies.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

FRA Touts Record Penalty Collections in 2015

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced yesterday that it collected a record 75% of civil penalties issued to railroads for violations of federal safety regulations in fiscal year 2015.  As noted in its press release (attached here), the FRA increased its collection rate 6% (over FY 2014), which equates to $15 million collected on $21 million in fines initially assessed.  The $21 million dollar figure represents the total fines for violations resolved in FY 2015, which includes violations from prior years.  However, the amount initially assessed for civil penalties transmitted in FY 2015 is actually higher, at $22.4 million.

Also available from the FRA is the full FY 2015 Enforcement Report, which is attached here.  Noting that its "enforcement push is part of a broader effort to increase railroad safety," a review of the full report indicates that although violation fines were reduced by roughly 25% from their initial penalty assessments, a mere 126 violation reports (of 6,485 issued), were "declined during legal review."  That represents a paltry 1.9% of violations being dismissed by the FRA. 

The numbers of the FY 2015 Enforcement Report clearly bear out the "enforcement push" of today's FRA, indicating the vast majority of violations issued will result in some payment by the entity receiving the violation.