Thursday, November 29, 2012


Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that it had approved the Federal Railroad Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) revising some of their positive train control regulations. According to the Fall 2011 Regulatory Agenda (this is the most current version of the Agenda; the Obama Administration has not been updating their agenda very regularly) this NPRM was initiated at the request of the American Association of Railroads (AAR).

The abstract notes that this proposed rule would “revise Positive Train Control regulations by defining the de minimis exception and en route failures, proposing exceptions relating to yard movements that may not be considered on the main line system, and amending regulations governing grade crossing and signal and train control systems.”

One assumes the ‘de minimis’ exception refers to the minimum amount of selected hazardous chemicals that are transported on a section of line that would establish the requirement to equip that section of rail line with PTC systems. The actual weight of chemical triggering that exemption is not likely to change due to the wording of the congressional PTC mandate, so it is unclear what changes would be made.

OMB approved the rule ‘consistent with change’ so there is no telling how long it will take the FRA to publish this rule in the Federal Register. It will be at least a week or two.

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