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Proposed FRA rule would ensure event recorders withstand train accidents


Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration announced it issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) aimed at improving event recorders so the "black boxes" can withstand any type of train accident.

The proposed rule — which addresses several National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on increasing available data for post-accident analyses — would help prevent data loss by establishing standards that ensure event recorders survive accidents in new and existing locomotives.

"The survival of data is key to understanding why a train accident happened," said FRA Acting Administrator Betty Monro in a prepared statement. "Having a better 'black box' will improve our ability to prevent future accidents."

The rule also would phase out the use of magnetic tape as an event recorder's data storage device; require event recorders to collect and store additional data, including emergency braking systems, and locomotive horns and text messages; and simplify existing standards for inspecting, testing, and maintaining event recorders.

The FRA will accept comments on the NPRM until Aug. 31.