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Railroad Operations and Safety


CPUC is the State agency charged with ensuring the safety of freight railroads, inter-city and commuter railroads, and highway-railroad crossings in the State of California. CPUC performs these railroad safety responsibilities through the Railroad Operations and Safety Branch (ROSB) of the Safety & Enforcement Division.

ROSB’s mission is to ensure that California communities and railroad employees are protected from unsafe practices on freight and passenger railroads by enforcing state and federal rail safety rules, regulations, and inspection efforts; and by carrying out proactive assessments of potential risks before they create dangerous conditions. ROSB personnel investigate rail accidents and safety related complaints, and recommend safety improvements to the Commission, railroads, and the federal government as appropriate. In addition to enforcing California state Public Utilities Code and CPUC General Orders, ROSB inspectors enforce Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations in a state/federal enforcement partnership.

ROSB currently has 45 certified Inspector positions. ROSB Inspectors are FRA-certified and are divided into the FRA's five railroad subject areas, "disciplines." Additionally, ROSB implements its Railroad Bridge Evaluation Program in coordination with the FRA.

1. Operating Practices – enforcing regulations for main, branch and yard train operations, including hours of service, carrier operating rules, employee qualification guidelines, and carrier training and testing programs to enforce compliance with railroad occupational safety and health standards, accident and personal injury reporting requirements, and other requirements.

2. Track – enforcing regulations for track construction, maintenance and inspection activities.

3. Signal & Train Control – enforce safety rules on signal system construction, maintenance and inspection activities.

4. Motive Power & Equipment – enforce safety rules on locomotives, freight and passenger rail cars, air brakes, and other safety appliances maintenance and inspection activities.

5. Hazardous Materials – enforcing regulations for rail movements of hazardous materials, such as petroleum and chemical products; and inspection of hazardous materials shippers.

Railroad Bridge Evaluation Program (RBEP) – This is the first state-run railroad bridge safety program. Currently paralleling federal practices while coordinating with FRA bridge personnel, the state program is also being designed to use risk assessment methods to assess bridge safety and address any identified safety issues.

ROSB Investigations and Inspections

Overview and statistics of ROSB investigations and inspections


Last Modified: 9/14/2015

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