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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

The Track Inspection and Maintenance Process

About This Document

FRA asked a team of U.S. DOT Volpe Center human factors experts to research visual and automation-aided rail inspection processes. The team focused on railroad inspection systems that employ automated track geometry technology, a widely used form of automation-aided track inspection used in freight and passenger rail.

During the analysis, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center team identified how each action in the inspection process could lead to hazards. The team then developed a comprehensive set of scenarios describing how combinations of factors could lead to accidents. 

By identifying ways to address contributing factors from these scenarios, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center developed recommendations railroads can use to assess and strengthen their current inspection processes and safety measures.

View the infographic for a summary of major themes and recommendations to understand how automation will impact the safety and effectiveness of railroad operations across the United States.

Last updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2021