Source: Federal Railroad Administration

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has proposed new rules to update current track safety standards (TSS) and “improve the effectiveness” of existing brake system safety requirements.

Officially, the FRA announced issuance of two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to promote safety innovation and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.

The first proposal would update the current Track Safety Standards (TSS), and the second improves the effectiveness of existing Brake System Safety requirements. Both of these proposed rules will increase rail safety as well as save time, according to the FRA.

“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 Batory. “These updates are consistent with the performance and evidence-based standards that are already being used by many railroads.”

The NPRM on Miscellaneous Amendments to Brake System Safety Standards and Codification of Waivers would make changes to portions of 49 CFR Parts 218, 221 and 232, including:

• Allow trains to go without Class I air brake testing for 24 hours, extending the requirement from four hours, which is expected to significantly reduce number of brake tests performed while increasing network velocity. This allowance is already safely in place in Canada.

• Incorporates end-of-train device (EOT) waivers related to battery change out, marker lamp height, and the use of “helper” locomotives to initiate emergency braking.

To view the proposed Brake System Safety rule see https://railroads.dot.gov/elibrary/nprm-miscellaneous-amendments-brake-system-safetystandards-and-codification-waivers. Public comments on both NPRMs will be due sixty days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

“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 Batory. “These updates are consistent with the performance and evidence-based standards that are already being used by many railroads.”