Posts Tagged ‘final rule’

FRA issues Final Rule to promote safe and efficient high-speed passenger rail operations

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule establishing modern, performance-based safety standards for railroad passenger equipment. The rule reinforces FRA’s commitment to safety while representing one of the most significant enhancements to the nation’s passenger rail design standards in a century. The rule paves the way for U.S. high-speed passenger trains to safely travel as fast as 220 miles per hour (mph).

“These new regulations were made possible by a wealth of FRA research, reinforcing our unwavering commitment to safety,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “FRA’s safety experts solicited input from industry stakeholders at numerous levels and took those ideas to develop standards supporting a new era in public transportation.”

The final rule defines a new category of high-speed rail operations and makes it possible for high-speed rail to utilize existing infrastructure, saving the expense of building new rail lines. These new ‘Tier III’ passenger trains can operate over this shared track at conventional speeds, and as fast as 220 mph in areas with exclusive rights-of-way and without grade crossings.

The final rule also establishes minimum safety standards for these trains, focusing on core, structural and critical system design criteria. FRA estimates that the rule will improve safety because of expected improvements made by the railroads to accommodate the operation of high-speed rail equipment in shared rights-of-way.

The final rule will be a deregulatory action under Executive Order (EO) 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” The rule is expected to save more than $475 million in net regulatory costs.

Passenger train manufacturers across the globe have utilized innovative design and testing techniques for years, incorporating features such as crash energy management. Under FRA’s previous passenger equipment regulations, U.S. rail companies have had limited procurement options or have needed to petition FRA for waivers to use these newer technologies.

The final rule continues to define Tier I as trains operating in shared rights-of-way at speeds up to 125 mph, and it also allows state-of-the-art, alternative designs for equipment operating at these conventional speeds. Tier II trains are defined as those traveling between 125-160 mph, an increase from the previous 150 mph limit. This supports a competitive operating environment for U.S. companies seeking to offer travelers more passenger rail options. By enabling the use of advanced equipment-safety technologies, this final rule helps eliminate the need for waivers.

The final rule was developed with the assistance of the Engineering Task Force (ETF), under the auspices of FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). The ETF membership included FRA technical staff and representatives from railroads, rail labor organizations, manufacturers and others. The ETF evaluated production trends against the U.S. operating environment. The ETF recommended that FRA expand its traditional speed-and-safety rating system to three categories of passenger trains.

Click here to read the final rule as published by the Federal Register.

DOT final rule: Workplace drug and alcohol testing procedures

On Nov. 13, 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule that, among other items, expands DOT’s current drug testing panel to include certain semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone). Testing for methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) has been removed while methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) has been added as an initial test analyte.

The final rule also clarifies existing drug testing program provisions and definitions, makes technical amendments and removes the requirement for employers and Consortium/Third Party Administrators to submit blind specimens. The final rule becomes effective Jan. 1, 2018.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

Click here to read more from DOT.

Click here to read the final rule as published in the Federal Register.

 

FTA issues final rule on safety program

FTAThe Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued the final rule for the Public Transportation Safety Program that establishes procedural rules for FTA to administer a comprehensive safety program to improve the safety of federally-funded public transportation systems. The final rule formally adopts the Safety Management System (SMS) approach to safety as the basis of the FTA safety program.

“With today’s action, FTA continues its steady progress in establishing the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen our new and existing safety transit oversight and enforcement authorities,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.

This rule also establishes procedural rules for the FTA to conduct inspections, investigations, audits and examinations of Chapter 53 grant recipients’ public transportation systems, withhold or direct the use of Federal transit funds, and issue directives.

FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight (TSO) will host webinars on Tuesday, August 30 from 2:00 – 3:00pm ET and Thursday, September 1 from 3:00 – 4:00pm ET to discuss the Public Transportation Safety Program Rule. Participants only need to register for one session. The webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the rule’s provisions and ask questions related to its implementation. 


Links:

Public Transportation Safety Program Final Rule

Register for the webinar on Tuesday, August 30 from 2:00 – 3:00pm ET

Register for the webinar on Thursday, September 1 from 3:00 – 4:00pm ET

FMCSA requires electronic logging devices

FMCSAWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the adoption of a final rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue. 

“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”

The final rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records. Strict protections are included that will protect commercial drivers from harassment.  

On an annual average basis, the ELD Final Rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.

“This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”

An ELD automatically records driving time. It monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information. 

Federal safety regulations limit the number of hours commercial drivers can be on-duty and still drive, as well as the number of hours spent driving. These limitations are designed to prevent truck and bus drivers from becoming fatigued while driving, and require that drivers take a work break and have a sufficient off-duty rest period before returning to on-duty status.

 The four main elements of the ELD Final Rule include: 

  • Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted. 
  • Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The Final Rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. [A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries.]
  • Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions. 
  • Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.

The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways. 

Motor carriers who have previously installed compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.

A copy of the ELD Final Rule announced today is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents.

Further information, including a comprehensive, searchable list of frequently asked questions, and a calendar of upcoming free training webinars, is available https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.

FMCSA publishes final rule prohibiting coercion

FMCSAWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the publication in the Federal Register of a Final Rule to help further safeguard commercial truck and bus drivers from being compelled to violate federal safety regulations. The Rule provides FMCSA with the authority to take enforcement action not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.

“Our nation relies on millions of commercial vehicle drivers to move people and freight, and we must do everything we can to ensure that they are able to operate safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This Rule enables us to take enforcement action against anyone in the transportation chain who knowingly and recklessly jeopardizes the safety of the driver and of the motoring public.” 

The Final Rule addresses three key areas concerning driver coercion: procedures for commercial truck and bus drivers to report incidents of coercion to the FMCSA, steps the agency could take when responding to such allegations, and penalties that may be imposed on entities found to have coerced drivers. 

“Any time a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, freight-forwarder, or broker demands that a schedule be met, one that the driver says would be impossible without violating hours-of-service restrictions or other safety regulations, that is coercion,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “No commercial driver should ever feel compelled to bypass important federal safety regulations and potentially endanger the lives of all travelers on the road.” 

In formulating this Rule, the agency heard from commercial drivers who reported being pressured to violate federal safety regulations with implicit or explicit threats of job termination, denial of subsequent trips or loads, reduced pay, forfeiture of favorable work hours or transportation jobs, or other direct retaliations.

Some of the FMCSA regulations drivers reported being coerced into violating included: hours-of-service limitations designed to prevent fatigued driving, commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements, drug and alcohol testing, the transportation of hazardous materials, and commercial regulations applicable to, among others, interstate household goods movers and passenger carriers.  

Commercial truck and bus drivers have had whistle-blower protection through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1982, when the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) was adopted. The STAA and OSHA regulations protect drivers and other individuals working for commercial motor carriers from retaliation for reporting or engaging in activities related to certain commercial motor vehicle safety, health, or security conditions. STAA provides whistleblower protection for drivers who report coercion complaints under this Final Rule and are then retaliated against by their employer.

In June 2014, FMCSA and OSHA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between the agencies regarding the anti-retaliation provision of the STAA. The Memorandum allows for the exchange of safety, coercion, and retaliation allegations, when received by one agency, that fall under the authority of the other. 

For more information on what constitutes coercion and how to submit a complaint to FMCSA, see: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/coercion. Please note: the Final Rule takes effect 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

This rulemaking was authorized by Section 32911 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (MCSA), as amended.  

For a copy of today’s Federal Register announcement, see: www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/11/30/2015-30237/prohibiting-coercion-of-commercial-motor-vehicle-drivers.

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The public, commercial drivers, motor carriers, and other industry members may file a safety, service, or discrimination complaint against a household goods moving company, bus, or truck company, including hazardous materials hauler or a cargo tank facility, by calling toll free 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Time. Complaints may also be submitted through FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint website at: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.

FMCSA was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Its primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. For more information on FMCSA’s safety programs and activities, visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety, and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional information is available at: http://www.whistleblowers.gov

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit: http://www.osha.gov.

SMART TD applauds DOT's tank car final rule

John_risch_thumbnail_web


Risch

Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced its final rule for rail shipments of flammable liquids. The rule calls for enhanced safety standards for High-Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFT), including stricter tank car construction standards, the phasing out of older tank car models, the use of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes (ECP), and will make permanent previously announced speed restrictions.

John Risch, SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director, welcomed DOT’s final rule, specifically applauding the mandate of ECP brakes: “This is a game changer. I’ve operated trains with ECP brakes, and they are the greatest advancement in safety I’ve seen in my 35 years in the industry.”

According to a 2006 FRA report, ECP brakes can stop trains 40-70% faster than conventional train brakes and allow for a graduated release, which is vital to the safe handling of trains in cold weather and on heavy grades. ECP brakes will save the lives of railroad workers and better protect the millions of Americans living near rail lines.” The DOT’s ECP mandates must be fully complied with by May 2023.

Additionally, Risch expressed relief that the rule does not unreasonably restrict train speeds, something that would add to traffic congestion and further delay passenger rail service. The rule will restrict all HHFTs to 50 mph in all areas and restrict certain HHFTs to 40 mph in designated high-risk urban areas.

“While this rule will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of our nation’s railroads, more can be done. We now urge the DOT and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to ensure that all freight trains are operated by a minimum of two individuals – a certified conductor and certified engineer,” said Risch.

DOT issues final rule for transporting liquids

Rule will make significant and extensive changes to improve accident prevention, mitigation and emergency response

DOT_Logo_150pxWASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The final rule, developed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with Canada, focuses on safety improvements that are designed to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident, and support emergency response.

The rule:

  1. Unveils a new, enhanced tank car standard and an aggressive, risk-based retrofitting schedule for older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol;
  2. Requires a new braking standard for certain trains that will offer a superior level of safety by potentially reducing the severity of an accident, and  the “pile-up effect”;
  3. Designates new operational protocols for trains transporting large volumes of flammable liquids, such as routing requirements, speed restrictions, and information for local government agencies; and
  4. Provides new sampling and testing requirements to improve classification of energy products placed into transport.

Canada’s Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, joined Secretary Foxx to announce Canada’s new tank car standards, which align with the U.S. standard.

“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Our close collaboration with Canada on new tank car standards is recognition that the trains moving unprecedented amounts of crude by rail are not U.S. or Canadian tank cars – they are part of a North American fleet and a shared safety challenge.”

“This stronger, safer, more robust tank car will protect communities on both sides of our shared border,” said Minister Raitt.  “Through strong collaboration we have developed a harmonized solution for North America’s tank car fleet. I am hopeful that this kind of cooperation will be a model for future Canada-U.S. partnership on transportation issues.”

Other federal agencies are also working to make transporting flammable liquids safer.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the White House, are pursuing strategies to improve safety.  DOE recently developed an initiative designed to research and characterize tight and conventional crude oils based on key chemical and physical properties, and to identify properties that may contribute to increased likelihood and/or severity of combustion events that can arise during handling and transport.

This final rule represents the latest, and most significant to date, in a series of nearly 30 actions that DOT has initiated over the last nineteen months, including additional emergency orders, safety advisories and other actions. 

Additional information about the rule:

(Unless stated otherwise, the rule applies to “high-hazard flammable trains” (HHFTs)—a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or 35 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train.).

Enhanced Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars for use in an HHFT—New tank cars constructed after October 1, 2015, are required to meet the new DOT Specification 117 design or performance criteria. The prescribed car has a 9/16 inch tank shell, 11 gauge jacket, 1/2 inch full-height head shield, thermal protection, and improved pressure relief valves and bottom outlet valves. Existing tank cars must be retrofitted with the same key components based on a prescriptive, risk-based retrofit schedule (see table). As a result of the aggressive, risk-based approach, the final rule will require replacing the entire fleet of DOT-111 tank cars for Packing Group I, which covers most crude shipped by rail, within three years and all non-jacketed CPC-1232s, in the same service, within approximately five years.

Enhanced Braking to Mitigate Damage in Derailments—The rule requires HHFTs to have in place a functioning two-way end-of-train (EOT) device or a distributed power (DP) braking system.  Trains meeting the definition of a “high-hazard flammable unit train,” or HHFUT (a single train with 70 or more tank cars loaded with Class 3 flammable liquids), with at least one tank car with Packing Group I materials, must be operated with an electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking system by January 1, 2021. All other HHFUTs must have ECP braking systems installed after 2023.  This important, service-proven technology has been operated successfully for years in certain services in the United States, Australia, and elsewhere.

Reduced Operating Speeds—The rule restricts all HHFTs to 50 mph in all areas and HHFTs containing any tank cars not meeting the enhanced tank car standards required by this rule are restricted to operating at a 40 mph speed restriction in high-threat urban areas.  The 40 mph restriction for HHFTs without new or retrofitted tank cars is also currently required under FRA’s Emergency Order No. 30.

Rail Routing – More Robust Risk Assessment—Railroads operating HHFTs must perform a routing analysis that considers, at a minimum, 27 safety and security factors, including “track type, class, and maintenance schedule” and “track grade and curvature,” and select a route based on its findings.  These planning requirements are prescribed in 49 CFR §172.820.

Rail Routing – Improves Information Sharing—Ensures that railroads provide State and/or regional fusion centers, and State, local and tribal officials with a railroad point of contact for information related to the routing of hazardous materials through their jurisdictions. This replaces the proposed requirement for railroads to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) or other appropriate state-designated entities about the operation of these trains through their States.

More Accurate Classification of Unrefined Petroleum-Based Products—Offerors must develop and carry out sampling and testing programs for all unrefined petroleum-based products, such as crude oil, to address the criteria and frequency of sampling to improve and ensure accuracy. Offerors must certify that hazardous materials subject to the program are packaged in accordance with the test results, document the testing and sampling program outcomes, and make that information available to DOT personnel upon request.

The actions taken today address several recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, including: requiring enhanced safety features for tank cars carrying ethanol and crude oil and an aggressive schedule to replace or retrofit existing tank cars; requiring thermal protection and high-capacity pressure relieve valves for tank cars in flammable liquid service, expanding hazardous materials route planning and selection requirements for trains transporting flammable liquids; inspecting shippers to ensure crude oil is properly classified and requiring shippers to sufficiently test and document both physical and chemical characteristics of hazardous materials; and providing a vehicle for reporting the number of cars retrofitted.

You can view a summary of the rule here and the entire rule here.  For additional information on the steps the Department of Transportation has already taken to help strengthen the safe transport of crude oil by rail, please visit www.dot.gov/mission/safety/rail-chronology.

FRA amends train emergency preparedness rules

FRA_logo_wordsThe Federal Railroad Administration announced a Final Rule (FR) amending its existing Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness regulations.
 
The revisions make explicit that existing requirements for initial and periodic training, operational efficiency tests and inspections of certain railroad personnel apply not only to on-board crew members and control center personnel, but also to the railroad’s emergency response communications center personnel, who communicate or coordinate with first responders during an emergency situation involving a passenger train.
 
The final rule also clarifies that railroads must develop procedures that specifically address the safety of passengers with disabilities during actual and simulated emergency situations and also limits the need for FRA to formally approve certain purely administrative changes to approved emergency preparedness plans.
 
The final rule can be viewed here.
 

FRA issues final rule on critical incident stress plans

FRA_logo_wordsThe Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule requiring certain major railroads to develop critical incident stress plans that provide for appropriate support services to be offered to their employees who are affected by a “critical incident.”

Critical incidents refer to events such as a highway-rail grade-crossing accidents or a train striking another employee or pedestrian. Railroad employees who witness such incidents are often affected psychologically and some suffer issues of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The final rule contains a definition of the term ‘‘critical incident,’’ the elements appropriate for the rail environment to be included in a railroad’s critical incident stress plan, the type of employees to be covered by the plan, a requirement that a covered railroad submit its plan to FRA for approval, and a requirement that a railroad adopt and comply with its FRA-approved plan. It is effective June 23, 2014.

The final rule requires each Class I railroad, intercity passenger railroad and commuter railroad to establish and implement a critical incident stress plan for certain employees who are directly involved in, witness, or respond to, a critical incident.

“Critical incidents have the potential to affect each and every one of us who work in the transportation industry,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “The requirement that railroads develop and submit a plan to address such incidents is an important first step to help our members, not only in the rail industry, but also those who work for bus and air carriers. The effects of a critical incident on our members can be devastating, no matter the industry, and we will do everything in our power to extend and improve these programs whenever possible.”

Although the FRA has never regulated critical incident stress plans, many railroads have had some form of critical incident stress plan in place for many years. This rulemaking responds to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandate that the secretary of transportation establish regulations to define “critical incident” and to require certain railroads to develop and implement critical incident stress plans.

The FRA wants all relevant railroad personnel to be aware of the relief available pursuant to a railroad’s plan.

The FRA reviewed the applicable science and information received through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) – in which the SMART Transportation Division participates – in its final rule. The final rule defines a “critical incident” as either “an accident/incident reportable to FRA under 49 CFR part 225 that results in a fatality, loss of limb, or a similarly serious bodily injury; or … a catastrophic accident/incident reportable to FRA under part 225 that could be reasonably expected to impair a directly-involved employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties safely.”

“The required set of minimum standards for critical incident stress plans include allowing a directly-involved employee to obtain relief from the remainder of the tour of duty, providing for the directly-involved employee’s transportation to the home terminal (if applicable), and offering a directly-involved employee appropriate support services following a critical incident. This final rule requires that each railroad subject to this rule submit its plan to FRA for approval.

The final rule contains minimum standards for leave, counseling, and other support services. These standards would help create benefits by providing employees with knowledge, coping skills and services that would help them: recognize and cope with symptoms of normal stress reactions that commonly occur as a result of a critical incident; reduce their chance of developing a disorder such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder as a result of a critical incident, and recognize symptoms of psychological disorders that sometimes occur as a result of a critical incident and know how to obtain prompt evaluation and treatment of any such disorder.

The FRA anticipates that implementation of this final rule would yield benefits by reducing long-term healthcare costs associated with treating PTSD, ASD, and other stress reactions, and costs that accrue either when an employee is unable to return to work for a significant period of time or might leave railroad employment due to being affected by PTSD, ASD, or other stress reactions. In addition, safety risk posed by having a person who has just been involved in a critical incident performing safety critical functions is also reduced.

The majority of the quantifiable benefits identified by FRA’s analysis are associated with railroad employee retention and a reduction of long-term healthcare costs associated with PTSD cases that were not treated appropriately after a critical incident.

The FRA expects that this final rule would decrease the number of employees who leave the railroad industry due to PTSD, ASD, or other stress reactions, as early treatment for such conditions following exposure to a critical incident would reduce the likelihood of developing the conditions.

In addition, if a railroad employee involved in a critical incident did develop PTSD, ASD, or other stress reaction despite the initial relief afforded by a railroad’s critical incident stress plan, the FRA expects that this final rule would decrease the duration of the condition as the chances for early identification of the condition would be increased and more immediate healthcare would be provided to the affected individuals.

Overall, FRA finds that the value of the anticipated benefits would justify the cost of implementing the final rule.

To view the complete final rule as published in the Federal Register, click here.

FRA announces rule on passenger rail emergencies

FRA_logo_wordsThe Federal Railroad Administration Nov. 29 announced a new final rule intended to further help with the evacuation of passengers and crewmembers in the event of a rail emergency.

Among the provisions, the rule requires that vestibule and interior passageway doors on passenger cars be fitted with removable panels and windows to allow passage if the doors do not open, and to provide for manual override in opening doors. It also requires floor or low-level lighting marking exit paths to assist passengers in reaching and operating emergency exists, particularly under conditions of limited visibility.

Further, the FRA is adding standards to ensure that emergency lighting systems are provided in all passenger cars, and strengthening requirements for the survivability of emergency lighting systems in new passenger cars.

To read the final rule, click here.

FRA mandates improved locomotive safety, comfort

WASHINGTON – A final rule on improved locomotive cab safety and comfort has been published by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The final rule, affecting all new and remanufactured locomotives in road and yard service, follows collaboration among the FRA, rail labor and carriers through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) process and becomes effective June 8.

Significant in the final rule is a requirement that new and remanufactured locomotives be equipped with a secure cab lock to prevent unauthorized intrusions. While many locomotives do have cab locks, not all are “secure.”

As secure cabs create intolerable conditions during hot weather, the new rule also requires climate control – air cooling inside the cab in hot weather as well as a cab environment ensuring a low temperature of no less than 60 degrees in cold weather – for all new and remanufactured locomotives.

“Fatigue management and security concerns require climate controlled locomotive cabs,” said UTU National Legislative Director James Stem. He observed that “CSX is doing a good job of consist management to move the newer and air-conditioned locomotives to the lead.”

Stem also observed that 22 months ago, a crew member was fatally shot inside a locomotive cab in Louisiana during a robbery attempt. And while that locomotive did have locking devices for the cab door and windows, the locomotive was not air-conditioned, which caused the crew not to secure the cab.

The new rule also affects use and operation of remote control locomotives, and revised standards for locomotive brake maintenance, headlight replacement and locomotive electronics.

To read the final rule, click on this link