FRA_logo_wordsWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will help protect communities from crude oil and hazardous materials incidents by strengthening requirements for securing unattended freight trains. The proposed rule codifies many of the requirements included in Emergency Order 28, which the FRA issued in August 2013 following the Lac-Megantic accident and strengthens existing regulations for railroad cars containing certain hazardous materials.

“Safety is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action is only the latest in more than two dozen steps we have taken in the last year to further safeguard communities along train routes that carry crude oil and other flammable liquids.

The new measures proposed in the NPRM would require railroads to:

Prevent trains or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials from being left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard, unless specific securement requirements are followed.Develop a plan identifying such locations or circumstances.Verify securement by qualified persons; and ensure that locks on locomotive cab are secure. Include securement requirements in job briefings.Perform additional inspections by qualified persons when emergency responders have been on equipment.Install locking mechanisms on locomotive doors and repair them in a timely manner.

The rule covers equipment containing poisonous by inhalation (PIH) materials and those defined as Division 2.1 (flammable gas), Class 3 (flammable or combustible liquid), Class 1.1 or 1.2 (explosive) materials, or a hazardous substance listed in 49 CFR 173.31(f)(2). This includes most crude oil moved in the United States.

“While our existing securement regulations have been largely successful, it’s important in light of events over the past year that we take additional steps to mitigate risk here in the United States,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This rulemaking will solidify our existing securement regulations and provide additional safeguards against the rolling of unattended freight trains, especially those carrying hazardous materials.”

The NPRM is the result of collaborative effort between the industry and other stakeholders who formed a working group to review securement rules, practices and operating procedures over the last year. The working group, convened through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee in August 2013, submitted its final recommendations for a proposed rule to the FRA in April 2014. The Department has also continued to collaborate with Canada.

The Department of Transportation, the FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have taken more than two dozen actions as part of a comprehensive approach to ensure that the safe transport of hazardous materials by rail is preserved and enhanced. Over the last year, they have issued emergency orders and safety advisories, conducted special inspections such as Operation Classification, and brought together railroad companies and the oil industry to reach an agreement on a series of immediate actions they can take to improve safety including reducing speeds, increasing inspections, using new brake technology, developing improved sampling and testing plans, and investing in first responder training. Additionally, they have issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a comprehensive rulemaking package regarding the safe transportation of crude oil and plan to announce a proposed rule to address train crew size.