Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FRA Submits Risk Reduction NPRM to OMB

Yesterday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) announced that it had received from the Federal Railroad Administration a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the congressionally mandated (and a year and a half overdue) Railroad Risk Reduction Program (49 USC §20156).

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking was published in December of 2010 (75 FR 76345). Only twelve comments were received about that ANPRM (one from yours truly based upon this blog post). Interestingly no comments were received from any freight railroad or chemical shipper.

The Railroad Risk Reduction Program would be required to be implemented by all Class I railroads and any other freight railroad that has been identified by the Secretary of Transportation as having “inadequate safety performance". Two main components of the RRR Program would be a technology implementation plan and a fatigue management plan. Both would be spelled out in the railroad’s risk mitigation plan.

There is no telling how long this NPRM will remain under review at OMB; that is as much a political question as it is a regulatory question. Given the ‘high priority’ that rail safety appears to be in Congress and in the Administration due to the number of crude oil train derailments in the last year, I would hope that the OMB will act quickly on this NPRM. I won’t hold my breath though.

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