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FRA Announces Final Rule to Prevent Unattended Trains from Rolling Away

Adds securement verification requirements to provide greater safety

WASHINGTONThe Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a final rule to prevent unattended trains that carry crude, ethanol, poisonous by inhalation (PIH), toxic by inhalation (TIH), and other highly flammable contents from rolling away.  Railroad employees who are responsible for securing a train will now be permanently required to communicate with another qualified individual trained on the railroad’s securement requirements to verify that trains and equipment are properly secured. 

“Today’s rule is part of the Department of Transportation’s comprehensive effort to bolster the safety of trains transporting crude oil and other highly flammable contents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Verifying that a train has been properly secured is a common sense solution to prevent accidents.”

The final rule will go into effect 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. Exterior locks on locomotives will also be required by March 1, 2017, and must be utilized when a locomotive has been left unattended.

Today’s rule requirements include:

  • A qualified and trained railroad employee to properly secure the equipment and verification of the securement with a second trained and qualified employee;  
  • Additional communication, including job briefings among crew members responsible for the train securement;
  • Properly installed and utilized exterior locks on locomotives;
  • The setting of sufficient handbrakes;
  • Removal of the train reverser; and
  • The proper use of train air brakes.

The rule applies to the following trains left unattended on a mainline, siding, and rail yard:

  • Trains carrying any poisonous by inhalation (PIH) and toxic by inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials; and
  • Trains carrying 20 or more cars of other high-hazard flammable materials.

“Where the Federal Railroad Administration can take smart steps to quickly raise the bar on safety, it will, and that is exactly what we are doing today.  Requiring that an additional, trained individual double check that the handbrakes have been set on a train will help stop preventable accidents,” said Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg.  “While today’s rule came out of a lesson learned from the Lac-Mégantic derailment, FRA will not hesitate to take additional actions to keep the rail system in the United States safe.”

On July 6, 2013, an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken crude oil rolled downhill and derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Canada.  Forty-seven people died and many more were injured.  While the Canadian government found that there were nearly 20 causes of the accident, a major cause was that the engineer of the train did not properly secure the train.

Since the Lac-Mégantic derailment, DOT has taken more than 30 actions, including regulations, emergency orders, and safety advisories, to prevent train accidents and improve the safety of high-hazard flammable trains.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015
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