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This report reviews Pennsylvania's statutory and regulatory authority over rail and identifies possible actions that Pennsylvania might take to improve rail safety and security, based on the physical rail system in Pennsylvania and its operating characteristics; a qualitative analysis of risk components; a review of recent studies and actions regarding rail security; and an overview of actions taken by other states. Though regulation of rail is largely a federal activity, there is significant flexibility within existing legal authority for Pennsylvania to play an active role in shaping its rail safety and security. Pennsylvania has a dense network of rail freight routes throughout the state, while its passenger rail services are concentrated in its southeastern corner. The terrorist threat to rail systems is well documented, and infrastructure will always be vulnerable. However, the extent and diversity of railroad infrastructure and operations in Pennsylvania requires an equally diverse approach to security. Effective response is also essential for minimizing casualties and economic damage resulting from rail incidents. Possible state-level actions to improve safety and security include the use of state rail development funding to improve rail freight infrastructure; provision of a range of support services depending on local needs; coordination of simulations and exercises with local, state, and federal agencies and the railroads; and building state-level capacity in railroad safety and security.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Rail Freight and Passenger Rail in Pennsylvania

  • Chapter Three

    The Legal Framework for Rail Oversight: The United States and Pennsylvania

  • Chapter Four

    Risk Factors Affecting Rail Safety and Security in Pennsylvania

  • Chapter Five

    Review of Recent Activity to Improve Rail Safety and Security

  • Chapter Six

    Findings and Possible State-Level Actions to Improve Rail Safety and Security

  • Appendix A

    Maps of Pennsylvania Rail Corridors

  • Appendix B

    Annotated Bibliography

  • Appendix C

    Pennsylvania House Resolution 824

This research was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and was conducted under the auspices of the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program (TST) within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

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