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The Office of Research and Development (ORD) is a dynamic and forward-thinking organizational component of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). ORD actively conceptualizes, sponsors and conducts applied and theoretical research; develops, tests, and evaluates analytical frameworks, methodologies, technologies, systems and processes in support of the FRA’s core safety mission; and produces knowledge to enhance and optimize operation of the nation’s rail transportation system. ORD’s programs and work products are an integral part of the FRA’s safety assurance and oversight activities, and contribute directly to the development and refinement of rules, regulations, standards and best practices. Beneficiaries of ORD’s work include freight and passenger railroads, railroad employees and passengers, manufacturers, suppliers, shippers, communities and the public at-large. Research and development projects are undertaken both independently and in partnership with public or private organizations, including institutions of higher learning, through the provision of grant funding, cooperative agreements, memoranda of understanding, and contracts. This collaborative approach is mutually beneficial and advantageous because it,

  • leverages scarce public resources, and disperses development and testing costs among stakeholders

  • reduces or eliminates redundant research and development efforts that benefit multiple end product users,

  • provides FRA a direct means to assess the safety needs of the railroad industry as new concepts and      technologies are put into use in the railroad environment

  • provides an opportunity to assure that safety is in the forefront of explorations of new technologies, methods      and practices.

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