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Rail News: Safety

FTA unveils details of transit safety plans


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) late last week issued a proposed rule for the public transportation agency safety plan, as well as a notice of availability for the proposed national public transportation safety plan.

Both the proposed rule and the national safety plan are statutory requirements first authorized in the MAP-21 Act in 2012 and reauthorized in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, FTA officials said in a press release.

The agency safety plan rule would require that the "safety management system" approach to safety be implemented in agencies' safety plans. Additionally, the rule would require transit agencies to set safety performance targets based on criteria established under the national safety plan. Transit agencies would be required to get their plans approved by the board of directors and perform an annual review and update of the plan.

Under the agency safety plan, agencies that operate rail would need to provide an emergency preparedness and response plan consistent with existing regulations. Agencies also would be required to share their safety performance targets with metropolitan planning organizations to aid in the planning process; smaller agencies would be allowed to have their safety plan drafted and certified by the state in which they operate, FTA officials said.

Meanwhile, the proposed national safety plan would set voluntary minimum safety standards for public transportation vehicles in revenue service not otherwise regulated by another federal agency, FTA officials said. These standards would include vehicle crashworthiness, fire-life safety, data records, and emergency lighting and signage.

In addition, the national plan would set voluntary minimum safety standards to ensure the safe operation of passenger-rail systems, including use and prohibition of electronic devices, roadway worker protection, work zone protections on mainline tracks and in rail yards, operating rules compliance, and contractor responsibilities.

The national safety plan is intended to serve as the FTA's primary tool for communicating with the transit industry about the industry's safety performance. FTA expects to provide updates in response to risk management trends in the transit industry, emerging technologies, best practices, findings from research and other industry developments.

Public comments on the proposed rule and the national safety plan must be received by April 5.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/9/2016