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FRA issues safety advisory on yard crossings, rulemaking on rail line relocation/improvement program

Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recommended that railroads assess their safety rules governing yard crossings.

In a safety advisory, the FRA urged railroads to review yard movement rules — including point protection measures — and what actions employees must take to follow operating procedures. If railroads fail to conduct the reviews, the administration might take more stringent actions or implement corrective measures, the FRA said.

The advisory addresses concerns raised by a fatal switching accident that occurred at a Manilus, N.Y., yard last month. A worker backing a pickup truck over a yard crossing was struck by rail cars being moved by a remote-controlled locomotive. The remote-control operator did not maintain continuous supervision of the movement, resulting in the accident, according to the FRA, which still is investigating the accident.

Also last week, the administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that details proposed qualifications and standards for capital grants to be issued under the Rail Line Relocation and Improvement Program created by SAFETEA-LU. Although Congress authorized $350 million per year for the program, no funds have been appropriated yet.

To qualify for a grant, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle traffic flow or a community’s quality of life, or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any line portion. The FRA proposes that half of all grant funds be reserved for projects costing no more than $20 million. A state or other eligible entity would be required to pay at least 10 percent of a project’s cost.

The FRA is accepting public comments on the rulemaking until March 5.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/22/2007