Due to the natural gas production boom that has been experienced in North Dakota, the state of Minnesota has experienced a surge in train traffic travelling on its railroad tracks. This surge in railroad traffic has drawn the attention of the Federal Railroad Administration because of the nature of the potentially hazardous chemicals that are being transported.

The Federal Railroad Administration is the main agency that is tasked with overseeing and regulating the operational safety of the U.S. railroad industry. The agency manages this via its staff that is mainly comprised of railroad safety experts that inspect and oversee the safety of the nation’s railroad infrastructure. In total there are over 400 federal safety officers employed by the administration who are spread out over eight regional offices blanketing the railroads across the continental U.S. MN falls under Region 4.

Each regional office is overseen by an administrator who is in turn supported by two deputy regional administrators. In addition to the deputy regional administrators, each regional administrator is also supported by chief inspectors and supervisory specialists, as well as grade crossing safety managers and safety inspectors.

This team of specialists focuses primarily compliance and enforcement of five key safety disciplines that encompass Hazardous Materials, Motive Power and Equipment, Operating Practices, Signal and Train Control and Track safety. The administration is also instrumental in overseeing all railroad safety and customer training. This also includes training all State safety inspectors. It conducts and oversees all train accident investigations, which includes any that result in employee fatalities, not to mention researching, drafting and implementing all industry related safety rules and standards.

Source: Federal Railroad Administration, “Railroad Safety,” Accessed Feb. 16, 2015