About the Rail Safety Program

The commission’s Rail Safety Program serves the public and railroad employees by implementing engineering, education and compliance programs that reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage on or around railroads. The program:

  • Oversees rail operations - Our inspectors review, in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, all aspects of rail operations that have been found to be the principal causes of accidents: crossing signals, hazardous materials, operating practices, and track.
  • Protects railroad crossings - We inspect intersections where rail meets road, called grade crossings, to make sure they are designed and maintained in a way that promote safe crossings. We also investigate accidents and authorize improvements including construction and widening of public crossings, installation of signals and gates and closures.
  • Resolves complaints - We work with citizens, local governments, and companies to resolve complaints that we receive. Examples of complaints include: bad crossing surfaces, drivers avoiding crossing gates, train noise levels (Quiet Zones), train speeds and railroad trespassing.
  • Ensures employee safety - We enforce railroad employee safety regulations. Our interagency agreement with the Department of Labor & Industries avoids duplication of effort.
  • Funds rail safety projects - We fund projects to improve public safety at crossings and limit pedestrian access to railroad rights-of-way through the Grade Crossing Protective Fund.
  • Promotes public awareness - We are a partner in the national Operation Lifesaver Program to educate the public and promote railroad grade crossing safety.