Thursday, July 28, 2022

FRA Publishes Train Crew Size NPRM

Today the DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (87 FR 45564-45622) for “Train Crew Size Safety Requirements”. The regulation would establish safe minimum requirements for the size of train crews depending on the type of operation. It would also establish processes for requesting authority to operate or continue to operate trains with fewer crew members.

Hazmat Shipments

Section E of the preamble addresses the concerns that the FRA looked at in assessing how it should deal with the train crew issue when dealing with the rail transport of hazardous materials. At the end of that discussion the preamble states:

“Based on the known safety and security risks associated with operating trains transporting large amounts of hazardous materials and with the hazardous materials known to present the greatest safety and security risks, as discussed in more detail in the section-by-section analysis of proposed § 218.123 [link added] below, in this NPRM FRA is proposing to prohibit the operation of trains transporting hazardous materials subject to FRA's securement regulation [link added] or materials designated by TSA as RSSMs [rail-security sensitive materials] on trains with fewer than two crewmembers.”

The proposed §218.123(c) that deals with hazmat shipments reads:

“(c)Hazardous material two-person train crew mandate. For the purposes of this paragraph (c), a tank car containing residue of a hazardous material as defined in § 171.8 [link added] of this title is not considered a loaded car. None of the exceptions in §§ 218.125 through 218.133 [links added] are applicable when any train is transporting:

“(1) Twenty (20) or more loaded tank cars or loaded intermodal portable tanks of any one or any combination of hazardous materials identified in § 232.103(n)(6)(i)(B) [link added] of this chapter; or

“(2) One or more car loads of rail-security sensitive materials (RSSM) as defined in § 1580.3 [link added] of this title.

Interestingly, this specifically excludes the exemption for using a one-person crew for filling unit trains.

Public Comments

The FRA is soliciting public comments on the NPRM. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # FRA-2021-0032). Comments need to be submitted by September 26th, 2022.

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