December 28, 2015: Determination of Minimum Drug and Alcohol Testing Rates

FRA’s Administrator is maintaining the minimum annual random drug screening rate at 25% of covered railroad employees and the minimum random alcohol screening rate will maintain at 10% of covered railroad employees during the period of January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.
Although these are the minimum requirements for drug and alcohol screening, railroads are permitted to perform FRA random testing at higher rates if they see fit.

Docket Number FRA-2001-11213, Notice No. 20

December 28, 2015: (FR) Monetary Threshold for Reporting Rail Equipment Accidents/Incidents for Calendar Year 2016

This rule announces the monetary reporting threshold for rail equipment accidents or incidents maintains at $10,500 for any incidents or accidents during the calendar year 2016. FRA is maintaining the reporting threshold at the same amount as the previous two calendar years because the wages and equipment data has only changed 1% from the second quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2015. However, the methods for calculating the monetary threshold are being re-examined.
This final rule will become effective on January 1, 2016.

FRA-2008-0136, Notice No. 8

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (Metra) petitioned FRAfor a six month waiver of compliance on passenger car emergency lighting requirements. The petition states that 70% of Metra’s passenger rolling stock fleet will not meet the December 31, 2015 deadline due to ongoing technical and funding difficulties. Metra believes the additional six months will give them enough time to retrofit all of its passenger rolling stock fleet.

Docket Number FRA-2015-0132

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

On September 22, 2015 Keolis Commuter Services petitioned FRA for a temporary waiver of compliance on the passenger car emergency lighting portion of the Passenger Equipment Safety Standards. Keolis, the contract operator of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail system, made the request because 70% of its rolling stock fleet, which was ordered prior to September 8, 2000 and placed in service prior to September 9, 2002, will not meet the December 31, 2015 deadline.
Keolis believes the request is justified considering the delay in finding qualified vendors and the addition of required labor forces needed to successfully complete the installation of emergency lighting.

Docket Number FRA-2015-0131

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

On November 3, 2015 General Electric Transportation petitioned FRA for a waiver of compliance from portions of the Railroad Locomotive Safety Standards. Regulations currently require every locomotive to be tested for sound level compliance prior to entering service. New ET44AC Locomotives will be manufactured in Pennsylvania and delivered to buyers between January and March of 2016. GE feels that this delivery time-frame will likely preclude successful testing due to unfavorable weather conditions. GE is asking for the deadline to be extended to September 30, 2016. Interested parties may submit comments until January 25, 2015.

Docket Number FRA-2015-0127

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

The Association of American Railroads (ARR), on behalf of itself and its member railroads, submitted a waiver of compliance request to FRA on November 13, 2015. ARR is requesting special approval of existing industry safety appliance standards, railroad safety appliance standards, and minor edits to their own standard S – 2044 which had previously been approved by FRA. The request is in reference to standards and specifications delineated in AAR Standard S–2044, Appendices D1, Safety Appliances for Flatcars with Full Decks; F3, Safety Appliances for Cars with Recessed Car Body Ends; and H1, Safety Appliances for Enclosed Vehicle Carrying Cars and Vehicle-Carrying Superstructures Applied to Flatcars. Interested parties may submit comments until January 25, 2016.

Docket Number FRA–2013–0081

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

Maine Eastern Railroad (MERR) submitted a petition for waiver of compliance to the Federal Railroad Administration on October 28, 2015. MERR seeking FRA’s permission to detect displacement of the bridge locking members when displaced more than 2 inches from their proper position rather than the existing 1 inch requirement. MERR claims it is not possible to maintain the 1 inch span lock retraction limit and cold temperatures. A similar waiver request was submitted and granted in 2005 however, it was allowed to expire in 2010. FRA does not expect to hold a public hearing on this matter.

Docket Number FRA–2005–20383

December 24, 2015: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

On September 17, 2014 Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNRRA) and Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad (DL) filed a joint petition with the FRA. They are requesting a waiver of compliance from certain portions of the safety regulations. PNRRA and the Lackawanna County Electric Trolley Station and Museum work together to provide the public rides on vintage trolley cars in an effort to the expand on the historical interpretation the museum provides. Although the trolleys used for these rides do share a portion of the tracks with the general railroad system, in the past FRA has approved a temporary separation procedure which grants the trolleys exclusive use of the shared track during the rides. PNRRA is seeking to extend the waiver of compliance in order to continue operating the historic trolley car rides on this shared track. At this time FRA is not expected to hold a public hearing on this matter. Comments will be accepted until February 8, 2016.

Docket Number FRA–2000–7275

December 21, 2015: (FR) (HM–233D) New Requirements For Transporting Bulk Explosives

PHMSA has made changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations in regards to the transportation of explosives on cargo tank motor vehicles and multipurpose bulk trucks that are used to transport materials for blasting operations. The new rule now authorizes the transportation of some explosives, ammonium nitrates, ammonium nitrate emulsions, and several additional hazardous materials in non-bulk and bulk packaging.
The regulation changes contained in this final rule will imitate nine widely used special permits that have established safety records and eliminate the need to submit renewal requests. The final rule becomes effective on January 20, 2016.

Docket No. PHMSA–2011–0345 (HM–233D)

December 11, 2015: Safety Alert – Shotgun Shell Found In Coupler Locking Pin

SAFETY ALERT – December 11, 2015

Please post this message in your department for employees who do not have computer access.
Shotgun Shell Found In Coupler Locking Pin A shotgun shell was recently found placed in the locking pin of the coupler on the QGRY in Quebec. This type of mischief has potentially fatal consequences and serves as a reminder that employees must always be aware of their surroundings, perform thorough equipment inspections and report any suspicious activity immediately to CP police for further investigation.

Situational awareness, knowledge of equipment and compliance with safety procedures are key elements in performing tasks safety. Should you encounter a similar condition as described above, please protect the hazard and report it to your supervisor immediately.

December 7, 2015: (FR) Final Rule Issued Regarding Passenger Train Exterior Side Door Safety

The Federal Railroad Administration hopes this new rule, effective as of February 5, 2016,  will limit the number of injuries related to the exterior side door of passenger trains by improving the integrity of the door’s safety system. This rule is designed to enhance the level of safety for the passengers and crew members.

Docket No. FRA-2011-0063, Notice No. 2

December 1, 2015: (SA) Safety Advisory Issued

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a safety advisory to notify freight railroads about the circumstances of the head-on collision at Hoxie, AR. and to discusses the risks that automated inputs that reset alerter warning timing cycles pose. A few of Union Pacific Railroad’s locomotives that are equipped with alerters had the horn sequencer reset without direct engineer action which reduces the alerters’ effectiveness. Union Pacific Railroad has taken steps to modify its locomotives in order to resolve the issue.
Currently, FRA is not aware of any additional incidents concerning locomotives that are equipped with alerters  that reset without direct engineer action. However, it is urging all freight railroads to review the operations of any locomotive equipped with alerters and modify them as needed to ensure no system resets the alerter warning timing cycle without direct engineer action.

Safety Advisory 2015-06

November 30, 2015: Notice of Intent to Buy American Waiver

The Illinois Department of  Transportation submitted a waiver to the Federal Railroad Administration concerning FRA’s Buy America requirement. IDOT is requesting permission to use  250 Sure Close gate hinges for pedestrian crossings that are manufactured in Italy. IDOT has made every effort to develop a domestic source for the  hinges but was unsuccessful. In light  of this information, FRA has  decided to grant the waiver.
Interested parties may submit written comments regarding FRA’s decision to grant the waiver until December 7, 2015.

Docket Number FRA-2012-0033