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Rail Safety Section Responsibilities

The Section processes applications for changes to a public highway railroad crossing. There are four types of applications; abolition, alteration, suspension and construction.

  • An application to abolish a crossing usually involves the removal of the rails, ties and warning devices. Said application is generally filed after the railroad company receives approval from the Surface Transportation Board to abandon rail service on the line.
  • An application to alter a crossing usually involves a change in geometric and/or physical characteristics of the crossing such as the widening of an at grade crossing, removal of tracks, change in warning facilities, raising or lowering a bridge, rehabilitation of a bridge and the placement of utilities within the crossing area.
  • An application to suspend a crossing usually is sought by a party who desires to remove the crossing but the railroad company retains the right to occupy the public highway.
  • An application to construct a crossing usually involves the establishment of a new crossing either at grade or grade separated.


Applications for exemptions from the Commission's clearance requirements are processed by the Section under Clearances (52 Pa. Code § 31.121-29).

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Applications for approval of traffic signal preemption are processed by the Section.

The Section processes applications for upgrading crossing warning facilities and crossing surfaces under the Federal Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Safety Program. Funding is administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The Section processes formal complaints that are filed with the Commission with respect to safety at highway-railroad crossings.

The Section may recommend that the Commission institute an investigation into the safety of a highway-railroad crossing.

The Section may recommend that the Commission issue an emergency order if a situation presents a clear and present danger to life or property.

The Section reviews contracts between railroad companies and municipal corporations. A contract shall be filed with the Commission at least 30 days prior to its effective date. (66 Pa. C.S. §507)

Pursuant to its federal authority, the Section conducts inspections and investigations to determine compliance with the federal regulations detailed under jurisdiction and regulations.

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