BNSF Railway, ATDA and FRA reach C3RS safety agreement

Apr 25, 2024

FORT WORTH, Texas – BNSF Railway (BNSF) and The American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA), along with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), have reached a landmark agreement to participate in a one-year pilot program of the FRA’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS).

As part of the C3RS pilot program, the approximately 650 BNSF train dispatchers represented by ATDA can report unsafe events confidentially while being protected from BNSF disciplinary action and FRA enforcement.

“BNSF is committed to improving safety on our railroad and is proud to have reached an agreement to voluntarily participate with ATDA in C3RS,” said BNSF President & CEO Katie Farmer. “We hope this program will further empower our employees to provide confidential feedback on critical safety issues in an actionable, timely manner. We look forward to working with the FRA and ATDA on this positive step forward.”

“The adoption of the C3RS at BNSF marks a pivotal moment for rail safety,” said ATDA President Ed Dowell. “As a program focused on proactive safety measures, it will serve as the new standard for reporting, understanding, and preventing rail incidents. Furthermore, this would not have been possible without the BNSF’s willingness to be the first Class I railroad to reach a C3RS agreement with ATDA. The ATDA is proud to be the first organization to reach C3RS agreement with BNSF.”

C3RS is an FRA-sponsored program that improves railroad safety through a confidential and non-punitive reporting process. FRA has partnered with NASA to operate C3RS as an independent third-party. The program will permit train dispatchers to confidentially report close call events (which include unsafe practices, behaviors, or situations that cause railroad safety concerns) and details of those events to NASA through a secure website or a written form. NASA will de-identify the reports and share them with a Peer Review Team (PRT), which is composed of representatives from the ATDA, BNSF, and FRA. The PRT will then review the reports and develop recommended corrective actions that can help improve railroad safety.

“The Federal Railroad Administration is pleased that ATDA and BNSF came together to join C3RS, a vital safety program, and we are confident that providing opportunities for dispatchers to share their experiences will have real results on rail safety,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “Rail workers have experience and expertise that are vitally important, and hearing from them can lead to proactive safety measures. The C3RS program is a proven, long-standing avenue to achieve just this, and that’s why USDOT and FRA have been working so hard to secure Class I freight railroad participation in the C3RS program.”

About the American Train Dispatchers Association

The American Train Dispatchers Association is an AFL-CIO-affiliated craft union representing members on Class 1, Commuter, Passenger, and Shortline Railroads who safely and efficiently control trains and on-track equipment, as well as protect signalmen, maintenance of way employees, and other on track workers. Additionally, the ATDA represents bridge operators, clerks, conductors, engineers, load dispatchers, maintenance of way, power directors, power supervisors, and yardmasters. The Organization is headquartered in Cleveland, OH. You can learn more about ATDA at