Federal Railroad Administration Strengthens Railroad Communications Requirements
Friday, September 04, 1998 (Washington, DC) Federal Railroad Administration Strengthens Railroad Communications Requirements
Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris today announced that for the first time the FRA will require radio or wireless communications devices, such as cellular telephones or data radio terminals, for many classifications of railroad operations and for roadway workers. The regulations, published in today’s Federal Register, require most trains to be equipped with radio systems or wireless communication devices. Railroads must also equip signal maintainers, track work crews and other roadway workers with communication devices. The new rules are designed to facilitate communications through the application of contemporary and cost-effective technololgies, and to increase the reliability of both routine and emergency communications.
The regulations were developed in cooperation with industry and government experts appointed by the FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), a collection of railroad industry representatives that regularly advises the agency on regulatory issues.
"Safety is Secretary Slater’s highest transportation priority, and these new regulations demonstrate how industry and government can work together effectively as partners to advance the cause of transportation safety," said Administrator Molitoris. "These standards will ensure that the ability to communicate ‘necessary and urgent safety messages’ will be universal for the nation’s railroads."
To provide flexibility for small railroads, communication equipment standards and implementation periods have been determined according to the size of the railroad. Large railroads must equip each train with a working radio in each occupied controlling locomotive and with redundant wireless communications devices. For small railroads, the communication equipment required for each train is determined by a variety of factors, including whether the train transports passengers, hauls hazardous materials, engages in joint operations with large railroads, or operates above specified speeds. The communication equipment requirements for roadway workers also vary according to railroad size.