In a report on the conduct of the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Kenneth M. Mead – the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation – concluded that "systemic safety issues still exist with the four major railroads, which raise questions about the adequacy of FRA’a regulatory oversight."
As part of an investigation of the "long-time friendship" between the FRA Deputy Administrator and a Union Pacific lobbyist, the Inspector General reported that "substantial safety and inspection issues exist for the four major railroads, including Union Pacific. Union Pacific had the highest average number of train accidents (weighted -- per million train miles) of the four major railroads during [FY 1998-200 and FY 2001-2003]. Yet, Union Pacific has been inspected proportionally less, ranking third in FRA inspections per million train miles between those periods. These data, compounded by Union Pacific’s recent spate of accidents, raise questions as to the adequacy of the extent of FRA inspections and whether FRA’s regulatory oversight process is sufficient."
In short, "significant safety issues persist," the Inspector General concluded.