49 U.S. Code § 20902 - Investigations

(a) General Authority.—The Secretary of Transportation, or an impartial investigator authorized by the Secretary, may investigate—
an accident or incident resulting in serious injury to an individual or to railroad property, occurring on the railroad line of a railroad carrier; and
an accident or incident reported under section 20505 of this title.
(b) Other Duties and Powers.—
In carrying out an investigation, the Secretary or authorized investigator may subpena witnesses, require the production of records, exhibits, and other evidence, administer oaths, and take testimony. If the accident or incident is investigated by a commission of the State in which it occurred, the Secretary, if convenient, shall carry out the investigation at the same time as, and in coordination with, the commission’s investigation. The railroad carrier on whose railroad line the accident or incident occurred shall provide reasonable facilities to the Secretary for the investigation.
(c) Reports.—
When in the public interest, the Secretary shall make a report of the investigation, stating the cause of the accident or incident and making recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate. The Secretary shall publish the report in a way the Secretary considers appropriate.

Historical and Revision Notes



Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


45:40 (1st sentence, 2d sentence words between 1st and 2d commas).

May 6, 1910, ch. 208, § 3, 36 Stat. 351; June 22, 1988, Pub. L. 100–342, § 15(3), 102 Stat. 634.

49 App.:26(f) (words after last semicolon).

Feb. 4, 1887, ch. 104, 24 Stat. 379, § 25(f) (words after last semicolon); added Feb. 28, 1920, ch. 91, § 441, 41 Stat. 498; restated Aug. 26, 1937, ch. 818, 50 Stat. 836; Sept. 18, 1940, ch. 722, § 14(b), 54 Stat. 919.

49 App.:1655(e)(1)(K).

Oct. 15, 1966, Pub. L. 89–670, § 6(e)(1)(K), 80 Stat. 939.


45:40 (2d sentence less words between 1st and 2d commas).


45:40 (3d, last sentences).

In this section, the words “accident” and “incident” are used, and the words “collision” and “derailment” are omitted, for consistency in this part.

Subsection (a)(2) is substituted for the text of 49 App.:26(f) (words after last semicolon) for clarity.

In subsection (b), the words “In carrying out an investigation” are substituted for “shall have authority to investigate such collisions, derailments, or other accidents aforesaid, and all the attending facts, conditions, and circumstances, and for that purpose” to eliminate unnecessary words. The words “books, papers, orders, memoranda” are omitted as being included in “papers”. The words “in coordination with” are substituted for “in connection with” for clarity. The words “The railroad carrier on whose railroad line the accident or incident occurred” are added for clarity.

In subsection (c), the words “When in the public interest” are substituted for “when he deems it to the public interest” to eliminate unnecessary words.

The following state regulations pages link to this page.