While lawmakers continue debate and gas prices reach new record highs four times in as many weeks, the Georgetown Loop Railroad finds itself in a unique situation. The Federal Railroad Administration is taking the uncommon step of overseeing the tourist railroad.
Normally, the FRA doesn't usually involve itself in the tourist railroad business beyond the usual Federal boiler regulations because most tourist railroads are "insular." However, Warren Flatau with the FRA says that they are not insular as tourist railroads go because of the occasional freight movements and other operational aspects of the line. Because of one or two incidents last year that would be reportable under FRA guidelines, the FRA has decided to more closely monitor the railroad's activities. Though the Colorado & Southern engines 12 and 9 add a great deal of curb appeal, the FRA needs to not only inspect the locomotives for public safety, but to oversee other operational aspects such as brake mechanisms.
This new attention by the FRA may indicate a renewed interest in tourist railroads by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, an industry expert panel for the FRA. According to Flatau, the committee is going to look at extending Federal regulations to the tourist railroads where the FRA deems it necessary for public safety. On the other hand, the open feuding between the former operator of the loop and the Colorado Historical Society has certainly played a role in getting the FRA to inspect the railroad. How it will impact Railstar's operations is still unclear, but it's obvious Railstar did not send invitations to the FRA. Number 12 is still to be inspected and hopefully it will be ready for the opening day festivities on May 24th, Memorial Day weekend.