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Friday, June 07, 2013    

FRA delays adjacent track safety rule's effective date by one year

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has again delayed the effective date of a final rule on adjacent track roadway worker safety. The rule now will go into effect July 1, 2014, instead of July 1, 2013.

In November 2011, the FRA published the final rule, which originally was scheduled to take effect on May 1, 2012. The rule requires roadway workers to comply with specified on-track safety procedures that railroads must adopt to protect those employees from train or other equipment movements on adjacent controlled track. The rule aims to further reduce the risk of serious injury or death to roadway employees performing work with potentially distracting equipment near certain adjacent tracks.

In response to the final rule, the FRA received two petitions for reconsideration that raised substantive issues and required a detailed response from the administration, FRA officials said in a Federal Register notice. Due to the complexity of the issues raised in the petitions and the need to consider railroads' safety training schedules, the FRA delayed the effective date until July 1, 2013, and established a 60-day comment to permit interested parties an opportunity to respond to the petitions, they said.

The administration then received five comments on the petitions, a number of which raised additional substantive issues or provided further detailed information on concerns already cited.

"The FRA's response to the petitions and comments is still being reviewed, and may not be published before the final rule's current effective date of July 1," FRA officials said. "Accordingly, in order to accommodate railroads' normal training schedules and to allow railroads to incorporate any amendments that the FRA's response to the petitions and comments on the petitions may make to the final rule, the effective date of the final rule [now is delayed] until July 1, 2014."

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