49 U.S. Code § 20101 - Purpose

§ 20101.
Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to promote safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents and incidents.

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 863.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised

Section

Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)

20101

45:421.

Oct. 16, 1970, Pub. L. 91–458, § 101, 84 Stat. 971.

The words “The Congress declares that” are omitted as surplus. The words “accidents and incidents” are substituted for “accidents” for consistency with the source provisions restated in section 20105(b)(1)(B) of the revised title. The words “and to reduce deaths and injuries to persons and to reduce damage to property caused by accidents involving any carrier of hazardous materials” are omitted as obsolete because they applied to 49 App.:1761 and 1762, that were repealed by section 113(g) of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (Public Law 93–633, 88 Stat. 2163).

Short Title of 2015 Amendment

Pub. L. 114–94, div. A, title XI, § 11001, Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1622, provided that:

“This title [see Tables for classification] may be cited as the ‘Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015’.”

Pub. L. 114–94, div. A, title XI, § 11501, Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1690, provided that:

“This subtitle [subtitle E (§§ 11501–11504) of title XI of div. A of Pub. L. 114–94, enacting sections 24201 and 24202 of this title, amending section 303 of this title and section 138 of Title 23, Highways, and enacting provisions set out as a note under section 4370m of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare] may be cited as the ‘Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network Act’ or the ‘TRAIN Act’.”

Pub. L. 114–73, title I, § 1302(a), Oct. 29, 2015, 129 Stat. 576, provided that:

“This section [amending section 20157 of this title] may be cited as the ‘Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015’.”

Short Title of 2008 Amendment

Pub. L. 110–432, div. A, § 1(a), Oct. 16, 2008, 122 Stat. 4848, provided that:

“This division [see Tables for classification] may be cited as the ‘Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008’.”

Pub. L. 110–432, div. B, § 1(a), Oct. 16, 2008, 122 Stat. 4907, provided that:

“This division [enacting chapters 227, 244, and 285 of this title and sections 24105, 24310, 24316, 24702, 24710, 24711, 24910, and 26106 of this title, amending sections 103, 24101, 24102, 24302, 24308, 24706, 24904, 24905, 26101, and 26104 of this title, enacting provisions set out as notes under sections 24101, 24302, 24305, 24307, 24308, 24405, 24702, 24709, 24711, 24902, and 26106 of this title, and amending provisions set out as a note under section 24101 of this title] may be cited as the ‘Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008’.”

Short Title of 1997 Amendment

Pub. L. 105–134, § 1(a), Dec. 2, 1997, 111 Stat. 2570, provided that:

“This Act [enacting section 28103 of this title, amending sections 24101, 24102, 24104, 24301 to 24307, 24309, 24312, 24315, 24701, 24706, 24902, and 24904 of this title, section 8G of the Inspector General Act of 1978, Pub. L. 95–452, set out in the Appendix to Title 5, Government Organization and Employees, and section 9101 of Title 31, Money and Finance, repealing sections 24310, 24314, 24501 to 24506, 24702 to 24705, 24707, 24708, and 24903 of this title, and section 1111 of Title 45, Railroads, and enacting provisions set out as notes under this section and sections 24101, 24104, 24301, 24304, 24305, 24307, 24312, 24315, 24501, and 24706 of this title, section 8G of the Appendix to Title 5, and section 172 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code] may be cited as the ‘Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997’.”

Short Title of 1994 Amendment

Pub. L. 103–440, title I, § 101, Nov. 2, 1994, 108 Stat. 4615, provided that:

“This title [enacting sections 26101 to 26105 of this title, renumbering former sections 26101 and 26102 of this title as 28101 and 28102 of this title, respectively, and enacting provisions set out as notes under section 26101 of this title and section 838 of Title 45, Railroads] may be cited as the ‘Swift Rail Development Act of 1994’.”

Pub. L. 103–440, title II, § 201, Nov. 2, 1994, 108 Stat. 4619, provided that:

“This title [enacting sections 20145 to 20151 and 21108 of this title, amending sections 103, 20103, 20111, 20116, 20117, 20133, 20142, and 21303 of this title, and enacting provisions set out as a note under section 11504 of this title] may be cited as the ‘Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994’.”

Shared-Use Study

Pub. L. 114–94, div. A, title XI, § 11311, Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1670, provided that:

“(a)In General.—Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 4, 2015}, the Secretary [of Transportation], in consultation with Amtrak, commuter rail passenger transportation authorities, other railroad carriers, railroad carriers that own rail infrastructure over which both passenger and freight trains operate, States, the Surface Transportation Board, the Northeast Corridor Commission established under section 24905 of title 49, United States Code, the State-Supported Route Committee established under section 24712 of such title, and groups representing rail passengers and customers, as appropriate, shall complete a study that evaluates—
“(1)
the shared use of right-of-way by passenger and freight rail systems; and
“(2)
the operational, institutional, and legal structures that would best support improvements to the systems referred to in paragraph (1).
“(b)Areas of Study.—In conducting the study under subsection (a), the Secretary shall evaluate—
“(1) the access and use of railroad right-of-way by a rail carrier that does not own the right-of-way, such as passenger rail services that operate over privately-owned right-of-way, including an analysis of—
“(A)
access agreements;
“(B)
costs of access; and
“(C)
the resolution of disputes relating to such access or costs;
“(2) the effectiveness of existing contractual, statutory, and regulatory mechanisms for establishing, measuring, and enforcing train performance standards, including—
“(A)
the manner in which passenger train delays are recorded;
“(B)
the assignment of responsibility for such delays; and
“(C)
the use of incentives and penalties for performance;
“(3)
the strengths and weaknesses of the existing mechanisms described in paragraph (2) and possible approaches to address the weaknesses;
“(4)
mechanisms for measuring and maintaining public benefits resulting from publicly funded freight or passenger rail improvements, including improvements directed towards shared-use right-of-way by passenger and freight rail;
“(5) approaches to operations, capacity, and cost estimation modeling that—
“(A)
allow for transparent decisionmaking; and
“(B)
protect the proprietary interests of all parties;
“(6) liability requirements and arrangements, including—
“(A)
whether to expand statutory liability limits to additional parties;
“(B)
whether to revise the current statutory liability limits;
“(C)
whether current insurance levels of passenger rail operators are adequate and whether to establish minimum insurance requirements for such passenger rail operators; and
“(D)
whether to establish alternative insurance models, including other models administered by the Federal Government;
“(7)
the effect on rail passenger services, operations, liability limits, and insurance levels of the assertion of sovereign immunity by a State; and
“(8)
other issues identified by the Secretary.
“(c)Report.—Not later than 60 days after the study under subsection (a) is complete, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that includes—
“(1)
the results of the study; and
“(2)
any recommendations for further action, including any legislative proposals consistent with such recommendations.
“(d)Implementation.—
The Secretary shall integrate, as appropriate, the recommendations submitted under subsection (c) into the financial assistance programs under subtitle V of title 49, United States Code, and section 502 of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (45 U.S.C. 822).”

Railroad Safety Strategy

Pub. L. 110–432, div. A, title I, § 102, Oct. 16, 2008, 122 Stat. 4852, as amended by Pub. L. 114–94, div. A, title XI, § 11316(j)(3), Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1677, provided that:

“(a)Safety Goals.—In conjunction with existing federally-required and voluntary strategic planning efforts ongoing at the Department and the Federal Railroad Administration as of the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 16, 2008], the Secretary shall develop a long-term strategy for improving railroad safety to cover a period of not less than 5 years. The strategy shall include an annual plan and schedule for achieving, at a minimum, the following goals:
“(1)
Reducing the number and rates of accidents, incidents, injuries, and fatalities involving railroads including train collisions, derailments, and human factors.
“(2)
Improving the consistency and effectiveness of enforcement and compliance programs.
“(3)
Improving the identification of high-risk highway-rail grade crossings and strengthening enforcement and other methods to increase grade crossing safety.
“(4)
Improving research efforts to enhance and promote railroad safety and performance.
“(5)
Preventing railroad trespasser accidents, incidents, injuries, and fatalities.
“(6)
Improving the safety of railroad bridges, tunnels, and related infrastructure to prevent accidents, incidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by catastrophic and other failures of such infrastructure.
“(b)Resource Needs.—
The strategy and annual plan shall include estimates of the funds and staff resources needed to accomplish the goals established by subsection (a). Such estimates shall also include the staff skills and training required for timely and effective accomplishment of each such goal.
“(c)Submission With the President’s Budget.—
The Secretary shall submit the strategy and annual plan to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at the same time as the President’s budget submission.
“(d) Achievement of Goals.—
“(1)Progress assessment.—
No less frequently than annually, the Secretary shall assess the progress of the Department toward achieving the strategic goals described in subsection (a). The Secretary shall identify any deficiencies in achieving the goals within the strategy and develop and institute measures to remediate such deficiencies. The Secretary and the Administrator shall convey their assessment to the employees of the Federal Railroad Administration and shall identify any deficiencies that should be remediated before the next progress assessment.
“(2)Report to congress.—
Beginning in 2009, not later than November 1 of each year, the Secretary shall transmit a report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the performance of the Federal Railroad Administration containing the progress assessment required by paragraph (1) toward achieving the goals of the railroad safety strategy and annual plans under subsection (a).”

[For definitions of “railroad”, “Department”, “Secretary”, and “crossing”, as used in section 102 of Pub. L. 110–432, set out above, see section 2(a) of Pub. L. 110–432, set out as a note under section 20102 of this title.]

Reports on Statutory Mandates and Recommendations

Pub. L. 110–432, div. A, title I, § 106, Oct. 16, 2008, 122 Stat. 4859, provided that:

“Not later than December 31, 2008, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall transmit a report to the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the specific actions taken to implement unmet statutory mandates regarding railroad safety and each open railroad safety recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board or the Department’s Inspector General.”

[For definitions of “Secretary”, “railroad”, and “Department”, as used in section 106 of Pub. L. 110–432, set out above, see section 2(a) of Pub. L. 110–432, set out as a note under section 20102 of this title.]

 

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