Federal Railroad Issues Proposed Power Brake Regulations
Wednesday, September 09, 1998 (Washington, DC) Federal Railroad Issues Proposed Power Brake Regulations
Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris today announced revisions to the regulations governing the power braking systems and equipment used in freight and other non-passenger railroad operations. The proposed revisions are designed to increase safety by better adapting the regulations to address the needs of contemporary railroad operations and facilitating the use of advanced technologies.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), published in today’s Federal Register retains the inspection intervals and criteria currently required under the existing power brake regulations. However, the proposed rule contains new provisions and modifications aimed at recognizing certain technological advances and improved operating practices, eliminating potential loopholes that exist in the current regulations, and clarifying existing inspection and testing requirements.
The primary focus of the proposed rule is the training and qualification of individuals responsible for the inspection, testing, operation, and maintenance of brake systems and brake system components to ensure that individuals are properly trained and truly proficient in the tasks that they are required to perform. The proposal contains broad training requirements which include certain specific elements that all training programs are required to incorporate.
"Safety is our highest priority and these proposed rules reflect the FRA’s commitment to increasing safety by making significant improvements to a very good set of existing practices," said Administrator Molitoris. "The proposal goes beyond recently implemented requirements for devices that can effect an emergency stop by radio command to the rear of the train, addressing a wide range of important details that result in more reliable braking systems, and will be the foundation for a final rule."
In developing this proposed rule, the FRA carefully considered the information, data, and proposals developed by the Freight Power Brake Working Group of the agency’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) as well as all the oral and written comments offered by various parties regarding the agency’s 1994 notice of proposed rulemaking on power brakes. The current NPRM is based the FRA’s experience with enforcing the current power brake regulations and comments provided during the original NPRM comment period.
The proposal contains provisions to address the use and repair of dynamic brakes on locomotives, the quality of the air that is introduced into a train’s brake system, and specific single car and repair track testing requirements. The proposed rule also incorporates references to the existing maintenance requirements to ensure uniform application and to prevent unilateral changes from being made to the requirements.
These proposed revisions are being issued in order to comply with Federal legislation, to respond to petitions for rulemaking, and to address areas of concern derived from experience in the application of existing standards governing these operations. Comments on the proposal are due by January 15, 1999.