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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT unveils new locomotive safety rule

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has crafted a final locomotive safety rule aimed at eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, facilitating the use of new technologies and incorporating current best practices.

To take effect June 8, the final rule modernizes and streamlines the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) safety regulatory program for locomotives by consolidating existing regulations and addressing technological advancements, USDOT officials said in a prepared statement. Some provisions of the existing rule had not been updated the past 30 years, while many technologies, industry standards and best practices continue to evolve, they said.

The rule addresses reliability and performance criteria for the design, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, repair and record keeping for various mechanical and electronic components, as well as certain safety appliances and control systems. Many of the rule’s requirements are based on existing waivers that have been granted by the FRA’s safety board to address railroad- or geographic-specific conditions; the rule eliminates the need to complete a waiver process.

For example, the rule requires that new and remanufactured locomotives be equipped with a secure cab lock to prevent unauthorized intrusions and an air and heating cooling system inside the cab to control the climate.

“Ensuring that railroads operate and maintain locomotives safely is a cornerstone of federal rail safety oversight,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee Locomotive Safety Standards Working Group for providing valuable input across the board and reaching consensus on several key issues.”

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More News from 4/11/2012