FRA issues final rule to keep unattended trains from rolling away

The Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule to prevent unattended trains carrying crude oil, ethanol, or other highly flammable contents from rolling away. The regulation comes more than 2 years after a parked train carrying Bakken crude rolled downhill and derailed in Lac-Megantic, Que., killing 47 people and injuring many more (OGJ Online, July 8, 2013).

Railroad employees who are responsible for securing a train now will 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, the US Department of Transportation agency said on July 30.

Transport Canada, FRA’s counterpart above the border, issued revisions to Canadian Operating Rule 112 a day earlier that formalized and gave more details to an emergency directive it issued following the accident. The revised rule comes into force on Oct. 14, it noted.

“Today’s rule is part of [DOT’s] comprehensive effort to bolster the safety of trains transporting crude oil and other highly flammable contents,” US Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx said of FRA’s action. “Verifying that a train has been properly secured is a common sense solution to prevent accidents.”

The new rule’s 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 locomotive.

• The setting of sufficient handbrakes.

• Removal of the train reverser.

• The proper use of train air brakes.

“Requiring that an additional, trained individual double check that the handbrakes have been set on a train will help stop preventable accidents,” FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said. “While today’s rule came out of a lesson learned from the Lac-Megantic derailment, FRA will not hesitate to take additional actions to keep the rail system in the United States safe.”

FRA’s final rule will go into effect 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register. Exterior locks on locomotives will also be required by Mar. 1, 2017, and must be used when a locomotive has been left unattended, the agency said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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