Posts Tagged ‘FRA rule making’

Court Overturns FRA Crew Size Action

February 24, 2021

A Federal Railroad Administration decision on crew staffing rules has been overturned by a federal appeals court.

The FRA had withdrawn a proposed rule requiring two-person crews but the court said that decision had the effect of authorizing nationwide one-person train crews and prohibited any contrary state regulations.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals deemed the FRA decision ruling “arbitrary and capricious” and returned the matter to the FRA for further consideration.

The FRA had introduced the two-person crew rule in 2016, but withdrew it in 2019, saying there was no evidence that train operation was safer with two crew members compared to operation with one crew member.

The states of California, Washington, and Nevada then sued the FRA and were joined by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The lawsuit argued that former FRA Administrator Ron Batory failed to follow required procedures on comment and notification, and that he could not preempt state laws.

FRA Seeks Comments on Safety Rule

February 9, 2021

Public comments are being taken by the Federal Railroad Administration on a proposed rule pertaining to railroad risk management.

The rule, which was published Dec. 22 in the Federal Register, would require some railroads to develop and implement a fatigue-risk management program.

Railroads would determine their fatigue risk by identifying and analyzing applicable hazards and take action to mitigate or eliminate that risk.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated the rule that the FRA has proposed.

Comments are due to the FRA by Feb. 22.

FRA Proposes PTC Reporting Rule Change

December 31, 2020

Rule changes that would affect reporting about positive train control systems have been published by the Federal Railroad Administration in the Federal Register.

The proposed changes would revise regulations that govern changes to PTC systems and reporting on PTC functioning.

The agency has proposed having a host railroad submit a request for amendment to the FRA before making certain changes to a PTC safety plan and FRA-certified PTC system.

Agency officials said the changes recognize that the railroad industry intends to enhance PTC systems to continue to improve safety.

The agency also is seeking to expand an existing reporting requirement by increasing the frequency from annual to biannual; broaden the reporting requirement to encompass positive performance-related information, not just failure-related information; and require host railroads to use a new standardized biannual report on PTC system performance.

Public comment on the changes is due by Feb. 16.

FRA Changing Accident Reporting Rule

December 10, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration has published a change it its accident/incident reporting regulations to modify how it calculates periodic adjustments to the reporting threshold and the way it communicates each year’s threshold to railroads.

The rule will take effect on Jan. 8, 2021, and agency officials said it is intended to improve the accuracy of accident and incident data gathered from railroads.

Current regulations require railroads to report to the agency all rail equipment accidents or incidents above the monetary reporting threshold applicable to that calendar year.

Starting next month the FRA will revise the percentage term used to determine a change in equipment costs so it is consistent with the percentage term used to determine a change in labor costs.

Other changes include a revision to the formula to use full-year data instead of only second-quarter data to calculate the reporting threshold.

The FRA will publish an annual notice on its website no later than Nov. 30 of each year the reporting threshold for the upcoming calendar year.

FRA Issues Final Revised Track Standards Rules

October 10, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration has published its final rule to revise regulations governing minimum safety requirements for railroad track.

Under the new rules, railroads will be allowed to inspect rail using continuous rail testing and to use flange-bearing frogs in crossing diamonds.

The new rules also relaxed guard check gauge limits on heavy-point frogs used in Class 5 track and removed an inspection-method exception for high-density commuter lines.

The FRA contends that the rule changes will benefit track owners, railroads, and the public by reducing unnecessary costs and incentivizing innovation, while improving rail safety.

The rule changes stemmed from the creation in 2015 of a Track Safety Standards Working Group of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee.

FRA published in the Federal Register in December 2019 a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to track safety standards.

FRA Proposes Rule Changes for Track, Brake Standards

December 21, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed new rules pertaining to track safety standards and its brake system safety requirements.

The agency said the proposed rules changes are designed “to promote safety innovation and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

The track safety standards rule change would allow continuous testing for rail inspections and remove an inspection-method exception for high-density commuter lines.

It would also add several recommendations by FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee.

Continuous rail testing differs from the traditional stop-and-verify rail inspection process, and extends the verification period to allow rail inspection data to be analyzed off-site and field verification to take place between 24 and 84 hours vs. within the current four hours.

The brake standard changes would allow trains to go without Class I air brake testing for 24 hours, extending the requirement from four hours.

The FRA said the change “is expected to significantly reduce [the] number of brake tests performed while increasing network velocity. This allowance is already safely in place in Canada.”

The new rule also would incorporate end-of-train device waivers related to battery change out, marker lamp height and the use of helper locomotives to initiate emergency braking.

“It’s time to modernize existing regulations to permit methods of inspecting, testing and maintaining track and mechanical equipment that are demonstrably safe,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “These updates are consistent with the performance and evidence-based standards that are already being used by many railroads.”

To view the proposed Track Safety Standards rule, see https://railroads.dot.gov/elibrary/nprm-rail-integrity-amendments-track-safety-standards.

To view the proposed Brake System Safety rule, see https://railroads.dot.gov/elibrary/nprm-miscellaneous-amendments-brake-system-safety-standards-and-codification-waivers.

Public comments on rule changes are due 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

FRA Seeks Date Changes for Training Rule Compliance

November 23, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed extending the deadlines for Class II and III railroads that are not intercity or commuter passenger railroads with 400,000 annual employee hours or more to comply with existing Part 243 training rules

In notice published in the Federal Register, the FRA is proposing giving railroads and contractors 16 additional months for compliance.

The new dates will be May 1, 2021, for program submission and Jan. 1, 2022, for designation of an employee’s occupational category or subcategory,

Starting May 1, 2023, refresher training must be delivered at an interval of three years.

The change in compliance dates had been requested by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association and the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association.

FRA Proposes Cameras on All Passenger Locomotives

July 28, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed requiring passenger train locomotives to have inward and outward facing video cameras.

The cameras would be operation while the lead locomotive of a train is in motion. Data recorded would be kept in a crash resistant module.

The data would be used to conduct operational tests to determine passenger railroad operating employees’ compliance with applicable railroad rules and federal regulations.

The proposed rule would label the cameras as “safety devices” under existing federal railroad safety regulations to prohibit tampering with or disabling them.

Public comment on the proposed rule is being taken through Sept. 23. Although the FRA does not plan to hold public hearings on the rule, it said that if enough people say by Aug. 23 that they have been unable to provide a written opinion by that date a hearing will be held.

FRA Proposes Rule on Signal Outages

April 26, 2018

The Federal Railroad Administration is taking public comment through June 22 on a proposed rule that would govern situations in which a signal system is temporarily removed from service.

The proposal would incorporate best practices the railroads already use when they take signals out of service.

This includes revising operating rules that govern hand-thrown switches, putting signals back in operation as quickly as possible, and “avoiding any train meets or any moves requiring the manipulation of switches within the suspension limits.”

The proposal was prompted by a Feb. 4 collision between Amtrak’s Silver Star and a CSX train parked at Cayce, South Carolina, that happened after a CSX crew member failed to restore a switch for the mainline.

The Amtrak train was diverted into the path of the freight. The signal system has been de-activated so CSX could install a positive train control system.