The Federal Railroad Administration has made adjustments to the deadline for Positive Train Control implementation. In addition to the deadline changes, FRA has also removed portions of the regulation that are no longer applicable. The final rule will be effective as of April 29, 2016. Petitions for reconsideration must be submitted no later than April 19, 2016. Interested parties may submit comments on petitions that have been submitted until June 3, 2016.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing adding a new component to the Hazard Ranking System. HRS is used to evaluate sites for placement on the National Priorities List. The addition of a subsurface intrusion component to the HRS would provide EPA and organizations that perform work on behalf of EPA additional areas to evaluate potential threats to the public when there is exposure to hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminates. Despite many states having sites with subsurface intrusion contamination issues there is no authority that consistently addresses subsurface intrusion contamination.
Interested parties may submit comments on the proposed rule until April 29, 2016.
Effective April 1, 2016 lithium batteries will no longer be permitted as cargo on passenger aircraft. Passengers and crew members will still be permitted to carry devices containing lithium batteries in their carry-on luggage. This decision was made following extensive reviews by ICAO Air Navigation Commission, and the UN agency’s Dangerous Goods, Flight Operations, and Airworthiness panels.
The Association of American Railroads has submitted a petition to FRA requesting a renewal for a waiver of compliance regarding air brake systems manufactured by New York Air Brake and Wabtec Railway Electronics. FRA previously approved the regulation waiver after field investigations were performed by a committee that included a railroad, air brake manufacturer, labor organizations, and FRA. All of the air brake systems tested at that time were endorsed by the committee.
Interested parties may submit comments regarding the waiver request until April 11, 2016.
The Federal Railroad Administration is in the process of implementing Confidential Close Call Reporting Systems (C3RS) in an effort to improve railroad safety. C3RS will provide an opportunity to study near miss incidents, locate the cause for unsafe conditions, and develop both corrective actions and preventative measures that can be followed in the future.
FRA is currently sponsoring a rigorous evaluation of the system to learn what conditions are necessary to successfully implement the program, what impact will C3RS have on safety, and what factors will help to sustain it.
FRA has recently released a paper that discusses the findings at one of the demonstration sites through interviews with stakeholders, redacted program data, and cross-site findings from several other testing sites.
FRA is seeking a renewal of its currently approved information collection activities. FRA believes the ICRs reduce reporting burdens, ensures it organizes ICRs in a user friendly format in order to improve the use of the collected information, and allows an accurate assessment of resources expended to retrieve and produce the information requested. This information is used to prevent the unsafe movement of defective freight cars.
Prior to submitting the request FRA is accepting comments from interested parties until April 25, 2016.
The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded almost $10 million in grants through funding from the Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) to eight states. The funding will enable them to upgrade and increase the safety of the railroad crossings that are along the energy routes.
Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, stated “These grants will reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings and help modernize our nation’s rail system. Through a combination of these grants, education and enforcement, we can – and will – achieve our goal of preventing accidents and deaths at railroad crossings.”
The second leading cause of railroad related fatalities is collisions that occur at railroad crossings. FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg stated “One of FRA’s top priorities during the last year has been to reverse the uptick in fatalities at railroad crossings because most of these collisions and deaths are preventable. Today’s grants will upgrade the warning systems at critical crossings and close others where crude oil and other energy products are transported.”
In an effort to reduce paperwork and economic burdens on the rail industry, FRA has revised the existing regulations on glazing materials in the windows of locomotives, passenger cars, and cabooses. The revised regulation no longer requires stenciling on the locomotives, passenger cars, and cabooses that are required to be equipped with glazing. Some compliance dates have been removed after they were deemed unnecessary. The final rule also addresses how the regulations apply to older equipment and end locations of all equipment, the definition of passenger car, and the modification of how regulations are applied to passenger cars and cabooses that are used for private transportation and older locomotives that are used in incidental freight service.
The Federal Railroad Administration is republishing its notice and request for comments regarding the information collection request that was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. The previous notice, originally published on February 12, 2016, was missing two accompanying documents.
FRA will be accepting comments on the following summary of the proposed information collection activities.
- Whether the information collection activities are necessary for FRA to properly execute its functions, including whether the activities will have practical utility
The accuracy of FRA’s estimates of the burden of the information collection activities, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used to determine the estimates
Ways for FRA to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information being collected
Ways for FRA to minimize the burden of information collection activities on the public by automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology
OSHA has released a Hazard Classification Guidance for Manufacturers, Importers, and Employers that focuses on updates to the Hazard Communication Standard. The updates are designed to reduce trade barriers, improve productivity for businesses that handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals regularly, and aid businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and chemical labels by providing cost savings.
Some of the changes made to the Hazard Communication Standard focus on the specific criteria used in the classification of health and physical hazards, the classification of mixtures, the requirements manufacturers and importers must use on labels, and specified 16 section format safety data sheets.
Union Pacific Railroad has petitioned the FRA for a waiver of compliance from 49 CFR 232.205, Class I brake test–initial terminal inspection. The waiver would allow Union Pacific to split a train en route using the same initial terminal inspection. Union Pacific has stated it is launching trains that contain multiple locomotives within the train so it can be split into two separate trains that are bound for different destinations. This type of train undergoes a Class 1 air brake test prior to departure. The combined train is cut at the distributed power units at a location that is less than 1,000 miles from the point of departure. There are no new cars or locomotive units added to the second train and the second train contains an end-of-train, or equivalent, device that is linked to what is now the lead locomotive. The cars on the second train will undergo a Class 3 air brake test prior to proceeding to their destination.
FRA does not plan to hold a public meeting on the petition, however interested parties may submit comments until March 14, 2016.
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety will be conducting a public meeting on March 23-24 in Washington DC for the Research and Development Forum. The forum is being held to review results of completed projects, brief stakeholders on new project plans, and discuss the direction of current and future research projects.
During this meeting OHMS will solicit comments regarding new research topics and provide the industry and stakeholders an opportunity to submit research needs statements.
Some items of interest to OHMS include research gaps associated with energetic materials characterization and transport, safe transport of energy products, safe packaging and transportation of charge storage devices, and safe containment and transportation of compressed gasses.
Interested parties are asked to pre-register for this meeting.
Amtrak has submitted a petition for a four year waiver of compliance on the regulation regarding the standard for location emergency exit path marking. Amtrak stated that the materials their current vendor had been installing were not fully compliant. The extension would allow Amtrak time to purchase compliant materials from another vendor.
At this time FRA has no plans to hold a public hearing however, interested parties may submit comments until March 21, 2016.
On October 22, 2015 Union Pacific Railroad (UP) submitted a petition to the FRA that would allow them to split control point B002 into two control points.
The reason for the modification is to facilitate yard operations, expedite train movements, and to accommodate the DOT’s expansion project on Interstate 29. Interested parties may submit comments until March 21, 2016.