A press release yesterday from the DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) indicated that they intend to issue proposed rules requiring two-person train crews on crude oil trains and establishing minimum crew size standards for most main line freight and passenger rail operations. A probable second rule making would address unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track or sidings and require railroads to adopt and implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders.
After the Lac-Mégantic derailment last year one of the actions taken by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee was the establishment of a working group to look at potential regulations for establishing minimum train crew size requirements. At the most recent meeting of the RSAC a presentation was made by that working group concerning the work that they had done to date.
While the RSAC is extremely slow in posting the minutes from their meetings, the FRA press release notes that the Working Group was unable to reach a consensus on the minimum crew size requirements. In the absence of a consensus recommendation the FRA is developing its own proposed requirements. According to the press release:
“The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will most likely require a minimum of two person crews for most mainline train operations including those trains carrying crude oil. It is also expected to include appropriate exceptions.”
A working group on train securement was also formed last year and they too made a presentation at the recent RSAC meeting. Apparently there was a consensus reached on these issues and FRA intends to initiate a rule making based upon that consensus language. It would include provisions:
• Prohibiting certain unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track or sidings;
• Requiring railroads to adopt and implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders;
• Requiring locomotive cabs to be locked and reversers to be removed and secured; and
• Requiring railroad to obtain advance approval from FRA for locations or circumstances where unattended cars or equipment may be left.
No draft language for either potential NPRM has yet been made public. Nor has there been any indication how soon such language will be available to send to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review.