Tuesday, September 9, 2014

FRA Publishes Securement NPRM

Today DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (79 FR 53356-53383) concerning the securement of unattended trains. This rule would update current regulations in place since 2001 is part of their on-going efforts to upgrade the safety and security of trains in response to a series of crude oil train derailments.

In general this rule would:

• Ensure that each locomotive left unattended outside of a yard be equipped with an operative exterior locking mechanism and that such locks be applied on the controlling locomotive cab door when a train is transporting tank cars loaded with certain hazardous materials;
• Provide that certain hazardous materials trains may only be left unattended on a main track or siding if justified in a plan adopted by the railroad, accompanied by an appropriate job briefing, and proper securement is made and verified; and
• Require additional verification of securement in the event that a non-railroad emergency responder may have been in a position to have affected the equipment.

The requirements in this NPRM would apply to:

• Any loaded freight car containing PIH material, including anhydrous ammonia and ammonia solutions; or
• Twenty (20) or more loaded cars or loaded intermodal portable tanks of any one or any combination of PIH materials (including anhydrous ammonia and ammonia solutions), or any flammable gas, flammable or combustible liquid, explosives, or a hazardous substance listed at § 173.31(f)(2) of this title

The location specific securement plans are not required to be submitted to, or approved by, FRA. They are, however, required to be made available to the FRA upon request; and the FRA may require changes to the plan {§232.103(n)(7)(i)}. The FRA must be notified when such plans are adopted or changed.

While not explicitly stated in the revised CFR language provided in the rule, the preamble makes it clear that the requirements for a second employee’s verification of proper securement may be done without physical attendance at the site of the securement;

“This may be done by relaying pertinent securement information (i.e., the number of hand brakes applied, the tonnage and length of the train or vehicle, the grade and terrain features of the track, any relevant weather conditions, and the type of equipment being secured) to the qualified railroad employee. The qualified railroad employee must then verify and confirm with the train crew that the securement meets the railroad's requirements.”

Interestingly the preamble specifically states that “proposed paragraph (n)(8)(i) does not contain a requirement that the railroad maintain a record of the verification of proper securement.” This will make enforcement of this provision very iffy.

FRA is soliciting public comments on this NPRM. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.Regulations.gov; Docket # FRA-2014-0032). Comments should be submitted by November 10th, 2014.

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