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Highlights

Although the overall safety record in the railroad industry, as measured by the number of train accidents per million miles traveled, has improved markedly since 1980, there has been little sustained improvement over the past decade. Serious accidents resulting in injuries and deaths continue to occur, such as one in Graniteville, South Carolina, in 2005 that resulted in 9 deaths and 292 injuries. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) develops safety standards and inspects and enforces railroads' compliance with these standards. On January 26, 2007, GAO reported on FRA's overall safety oversight strategy. (See GAO-07-149.) The report discussed how FRA (1) focuses its efforts on the highest priority risks related to train accidents in planning its oversight, (2) identifies safety problems on railroad systems in carrying out its oversight, and (3) assesses the impact of its oversight efforts on safety. GAO recommended that FRA (1) put into place measures of the results of its inspection and enforcement programs and (2) evaluate its enforcement program. In its response, the Department of Transportation stated that FRA agreed to develop such measures and would consider requesting additional resources to conduct an evaluation of its enforcement program. This statement is based on GAO's recent report.

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