Railroad Safety Section

Mission:

To ensure that the Citizens of Arizona, as well as Railroad employees throughout the State, have a railroad system that is operated and maintained in as safe a manner as possible.

The Commission has jurisdiction over matters pertaining to public rail and highway crossings. This Section is responsible for investigating the following accidents/incidents and complaints:

  • Train derailments
  • Train/auto Collisions
  • Any railroad incident involving a release hazardous materials
  • Pedestrian injury or fatality at a highway-rail crossing
  • Train to train collisions
  • Trespasser injury or fatality
  • Railroad employee workplace complaints and or injuries
  • Complaints by citizens or other public agencies relating to:
    1. Blocked Crossing
    2. Roadway surfaces at rail crossings
    3. Excessive noise caused by train operations

The Commission also has a team of inspectors statewide reviewing the following items at regular intervals:

railroad-track

Railroad Track:

Commission Staff examines railroad track for proper condition, including alignment, profile and geometrical surface. Curves and spirals are measured for uniformity and proper superelevation. We also examine switches, derails and other track related structures for compliance with the state and federal minimum safety standards for track. Initial track inspections are done from a track-mounted highway vehicle and sometimes by walking.  Staff also conducts unannounced “Roadway Worker Protection” inspections, ensuring that railroad workers who work in the foul of active railroad tracks are continuously and properly protected from train movements.

locomotives-railcars

Locomotives and Railcars:

Commission Staff examines various components of the several braking systems on railcars and locomotives, as well as general condition and particularly the condition and operation of safety appliances that employees depend on for safety such as ladders, handholds, and stepwells.  There are also certain safety features on locomotives having to do with the very high amperage electrical current generated by them that are checked for proper and safe operation as well as ensuring the carriers conduct the required periodic inspections. Locomotives are also inspected for proper operation of the horn, sidelights, headlights, bells and for compliance with all the applicable state and federal regulations.  The conducting of entire-train mechanical inspections and air brake tests are also monitored to ensure they are done thoroughly and properly.

railroad-operating

Railroad Operating Practices:

Commission Staff examines the railroads for compliance with extensive state and federal regulations in the operating practices area. Included are such things as the proper certification of locomotive engineers and train operating employees, drug and alcohol testing of them, switching operations including operation of switches and derails, proper securement of trains and rolling stock, and observation of the efficiency testing of these employees by company officers, which is done to ensure tests are conducted properly by managers who are trained to do them, and to see that employees are properly observing wayside signals when moving their trains.

transportation-hm

Transportation of Hazardous Materials by Rail:

Commission Staff examines shipments of hazardous materials on the railroad for compliance with the applicable state and federal regulations. Inspections consist of examination of tank cars and containers on flat cars (COFC) for proper product classification, hazard marking and placarding, leaks, securement of valves and closures, and shipping paper hazardous information.  Staff checks that the railroads are handling these hazardous shipments properly.  Inspections are also done at shipper and receiver facilities around the state for proper compliance with the loading, unloading, package preparation, and securement standards.

railroad-crossing

Railroad Crossing Warning Signals, Train Control Signals and Devices:

Commission Staff examines the various electronic crossing warning devices for proper operating voltages, grounding, etc., for compliance with state and federal regulations. Similarly, Staff also examines train control signals for compliance with federal regulations.  This inspector also inspects and monitors compliance with the new Positive Train Control ("PTC") monitoring and performance standards.  "PTC" is a global railway system that utilizes GPS, way side, and back office digital equipment to ensure adequate separation of train movements and prevents train to train collisions as well as ensuring compliance with track occupancy orders, speed restrictions, and other operating elements.

public-highway

Public Highway-Rail At-Grade Crossings:

Commission Staff examines the crossing surface for driving roughness, roadway geometry, sight visibility, lighting, roadway jurisdiction, signing and striping, etc. Data is measured and recorded according to all applicable federal and state regulations. Staff evaluates the “big picture” in collaboration with other stakeholders such as ADOT, Municipal staff, the railroads, and others to ensure the safety and best interests of the local communities are represented in the railroad crossing maintenance, installation, and upgrade processes.  Staff makes their recommendations to the Commissioners, who are the final authority in regulation of railroad crossings in the State of Arizona.  Staff also works to ensure these stakeholders are accountable in maintaining existing crossings to these standards.

Laws and Rules:

Arizona State law requires all railroads to submit telephonic accident notifications for specific instances, to the ACC. Arizona State law also requires that any railroad, who is required to submit an accident or incident, derailment, 5800, or other type of incident report to the Federal Railroad Administration, must also submit a copy of that report to the ACC.

Helpful Links:

Stay Connected


Arizona Corporation Commission

1200 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Corporations Division

1300 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Tucson Office (Walk-ins only)

400 W. Congress Street

Tucson, AZ 85701