This notice serves to update FRA's last announcement of working group activities and status reports of April 23, 2012 (77 FR 24257). The 46th full RSAC meeting was held on April 26, 2012, and the 47th meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2012, at the National Association of Home Builders, National Housing Center, located at 1201 15th Street NW., Washington, DC 20005.
Since its first meeting in April 1996, the RSAC has accepted 38 tasks. Status for each of the open tasks (neither completed nor terminated) is provided below:
Task 96-4—Tourist and Historic Railroads. Reviewing the appropriateness of the agency's current policy regarding the applicability of existing and proposed regulations to tourist, excursion, scenic, and historic railroads. This task was accepted on April 2, 1996, and a working group was established. The working group monitored the steam locomotive regulation task. Planned future activities involve the review of other regulations for possible adaptation to the safety needs of tourist and historic railroads.
Contact:Robert Lauby, (202) 493-6474.
Task 03-01—Passenger Safety.This task includes updating and enhancing the regulations pertaining to passengersafety, based on research and experience. This task was accepted on May 20, 2003, and a working group was established. Prior to embarking on substantive discussions of a specific task, the working group set forth in writing a specific description of the task. The working group reports planned activities to the full RSAC at each scheduled full RSAC meeting, including milestones for completion of projects and progress toward completion. At the first meeting, held on September 9-10, 2003, a consolidated list of issues was completed. At the second meeting, held on November 6-7, 2003, four task groups were established: Emergency Preparedness, Mechanical, Crashworthiness, and Vehicle/Track Interaction. The task forces met and reported on activities for working group consideration at the third meeting, held on May 11-12, 2004, and a fourth meeting was held on October 26-27, 2004. The working group met on March 21-22, 2006, and again on September 12-13, 2006, at which time the group agreed to establish a task force on General Passenger Safety. The full Passenger Safety Working Group met on April 17-18, 2007; December 11-12, 2007; November 13, 2008; and June 8, 2009. On August 5, 2009, the working group was requested to establish an Engineering Task Force (ETF) to consider technical criteria and procedures for qualifying alternative passenger equipment designs as equivalent in safety to equipment meeting the design standards in the Passenger Equipment Safety Standards. Consensus Tier III recommendations of the ETF were developed and were approved at a meeting on October 6-7, 2011, by the Passenger Safety Working Group, and these recommendations were approved by the full RSAC Committee by electronic vote on March 2, 2012. These recommendations address safety issues related to high-speed rail trainsets used in the United States. No additional meetings are currently scheduled.
Contact:Charles Bielitz, (202) 493-6314.
Engineering Task Force.The Passenger Safety Working Group approved a request from FRA to establish an ETF under the Passenger Safety Working Group in August 2009. The mission of the task force is to produce a set of technical evaluation criteria and procedures for passenger rail equipment built to alternative designs. The technical evaluation criteria and procedures would provide a means of establishing whether an alternative design would result in performance at least equal to the structural design standards set forth in the Passenger Equipment Safety Standards (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 238). The initial focus of this effort will be on Tier I standards. When completed, the criteria and procedures would form a technical basis for making determinations concerning equivalent safety pursuant to 49 CFR Section 238.201, and provide a technical framework for presenting evidence to FRA in support of any request for waiver of the compressive (buff) strength requirement, as set forth in 49 CFR 238.203.See49 CFR part 211, Rules of Practice. The criteria and procedures could be incorporated into Part 238 at a later date after notice and opportunity for public comment. The ETF was formed and a kickoff meeting was held on September 23-24, 2009. The group held follow-on meetings November 3-4, 2009; January 7-8, 2010; and March 9-10, 2010. A followup GoTo/Webinar meeting was held on July 12, 2010. The ETF developed a draft “Criteria and Procedures Report” that was approved by the Passenger Safety Working Group during the September 16, 2010, meeting and by the RSAC Committee during the September 23, 2010, meeting. The document has been placed on the FRA Web site at the following address:http://www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/RSAC_REPORT-%209-16-10.pdf.
Engineering Task Force II.In order to build on the success of the ETF in developing a set of alternative technical criteria and procedures for evaluating the crashworthiness and occupant protection performance of passenger rail equipment in service at conventional operating speeds, FRA requested that the Passenger Safety Working Group re-task the group to concentrate on developing crashworthiness and occupant protection safety recommendations for high-speed passenger trains. The Passenger Safety Working Group accepted the task on July 28, 2010, by electronic vote. Under the new task, the task force may address any safety features of the equipment, including but not limited to crashworthiness, interior occupant protection, glazing, emergency egress, and fire safety features. Any type of equipment may be addressed, including conventional locomotives, high-speed power cars, cab cars, multiple-unit (MU) locomotives, and coach cars. The equipment addressed may be used in any type of passenger service, from conventional-speed to high-speed. Recommendations may take the form of criteria and procedures, revisions to existing regulations, or adoption of new regulations, including rules of particular applicability. The work of the re-tasked ETF is intended to assist FRA in developing appropriate safety standards for the high-speed rail projects planned in California and Nevada. The ETF II held a kickoff meeting on October 21-22, 2010, to begin work on the new high-speed task, and had follow-on meetings on January 11-12, February 14-15, March 30-31, June 16-17, October 6-7, 2011; and June 27-28, 2012. Consensus Tier III recommendations of the ETF were developed and were accepted by vote during the meeting on October 6-7, 2011. The ETF II formed three additional Task Groups to work in the areas of track worthiness and brakes.
The Track Worthiness Task Group is tasked to identify potential safety issues related to operation of high-speed trainsets on conventional track and to make recommendations on how best to mitigate any consequences. The Task Group includes experts and key stakeholders such as international operators of high-speed equipment, car builders, wheel/rail interaction dynamics specialists, and other RSAC working group members involved in vehicle/track interaction.
The Brakes Task Group is tasked to review braking system requirements and international braking system requirements versus existing U.S. requirements including inspection and maintenance and identify common features, determine basic parameters, and consider use of service proven braking systems. The Task Group will also consider performance-based provisions and requirements with consideration for operators to develop maintenance, inspection, and service plans, and make recommendations regarding brakes to the ETF II as related to Tier III.
The Engineering Structure and Integrity Task Group is tasked to develop a document that outlines and describes procedures and processes necessary to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of applicable Federal regulations and American Public Transportation Association (APTA) standards for structural integrity and crashworthiness for railroad passenger train sets. The next ETF meeting is scheduled for September 2526, 2012.Contact: Robert Lauby, (202) 493-6474.
Emergency Preparedness Task Force.At the working group meeting on March 9-10, 2005, the working group received and approved the consensus report of the Emergency Preparedness Task Force related to emergency communication,emergency egress, and rescue access. These recommendations were presented to and approved by the full RSAC on May 18, 2005. The working group met on September 7-8, 2005, and additional, supplementary recommendations were presented to and accepted by the full RSAC on October 11, 2005. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published on August 24, 2006 (71 FR 50275), and was open for comment until October 23, 2006. The working group agreed on recommendations for the final rule, including resolution of final comments received, during the April 17-18, 2007, meeting. The recommendations were presented to and approved by the full RSAC on June 26, 2007. The Passenger Train Emergency Systems final rule, focusing on emergency communication, emergency egress, and rescue access, was published on February 1, 2008 (73 FR 6370). The task force met on October 17-18, 2007, and reached consensus on the draft rule text for a followup NPRM on Passenger Train Emergency Systems, focusing on low location emergency exit path marking, emergency lighting, and emergency signage. The task force presented the draft rule text to the Passenger Safety Working Group on December 11-12, 2007, and the consensus draft rule text was presented to and approved by full RSAC vote during the February 20, 2008, meeting. During the May 13-14, 2008, meeting, the task force recommended clarifying the applicability of back-up emergency communication system requirements in the February 1, 2008, final rule, and FRA announced its intention to exercise limited enforcement discretion for a new provision amending instruction requirements for emergency window exit removal. The working group ratified these recommendations on June 19, 2008. The task force met again on March 31, 2009, to clarify issues raised by members related to the followup NPRM. The modified rule text was presented to and approved by the Passenger Safety Working Group on June 8, 2009. The working group requested that FRA draft the rule text requiring daily inspection of removable panels or windows in vestibule doors and entrust the Emergency Preparedness Task Force with reviewing the text. FRA sent the draft text to the task force for review and comment on August 4, 2009. The draft rule text was approved by the Passenger Safety Working Group by mail ballot on December 23, 2009, and the resultant NPRM was published January 3, 2012 (77 FR 154). No additional task force meetings are currently scheduled.Contact: Brenda Moscoso, (202) 493-6282.
Vehicle/Track Interaction Task Force.The task force is developing proposed revisions to 49 CFR parts 213 and 238, principally regarding high-speed passenger service. The task force met on October 9-11, 2007, and again on November 19-20, 2007, in Washington, DC, and presented the final task force report and final recommendations and proposed rule text for approval by the Passenger Safety Working Group at the December 11-12, 2007, meeting. The final report and the proposed rule text were approved by the working group and were presented to and approved by full RSAC vote during the February 20, 2008, meeting. The group met on February 27-28, 2008, and by teleconference on March 18, 2010, to address unresolved issues, and the NPRM was published on May 10, 2010 (75 FR 25928). The task force was called back into session on August 5-6, 2010, to review and consider NPRM comments. The final rule will amend the Track Safety Standards and Passenger Equipment Safety Standards for high-speed train operations and train operations at high cant deficiencies to promote the safe interaction of rail vehicles with the track over which they operate. It will revise both the safety limits for these operations and the process to qualify them. It accounts for a range of vehicle types that are currently used and may likely be used on future high-speed or high cant deficiency rail operations, and would provide safety assurance for train operations in all classes of track. It is based on the results of simulation studies designed to identify track geometry irregularities associated with unsafe wheel forces and acceleration, thorough reviews of vehicle qualification and revenue service test data, and consideration of international practices. The draft final rule was sent to the task force for final consensus on November 11, 2011, and was approved by electronic vote on November 21, 2011. The draft final rule was then approved by electronic vote by the Passenger Safety Working Group on December 12, 2011, and by the full RSACCommittee by electronic vote on January 6, 2012. Target publication date of the final rule is September 2012.Contact: John Mardente, (202) 493-1335.
General Passenger Safety Task Force.At the Passenger Safety Working Group meeting on April 17-18, 2007, the task force presented a progress report to the working group. The task force met on July 18-19, 2007, and afterwards it reported proposed reporting cause codes for injuries involving the platform gap, which were approved by the working group by mail ballot in September 2007. The full RSAC approved the recommendations for changes to 49 CFR part 225 accident/incident cause codes on October 25, 2007. The General Passenger Safety Task Force presented draft guidance material for management of the gap that was considered and approved by the working group during the December 11-12, 2007, meeting and was presented to and approved by full RSAC vote during the February 20, 2008, meeting. The group met April 23-24, 2008, December 3-4, 2008, April 21-23, 2009, October 7-8, 2009, and July 30, 2010, by GoTo/Webinar teleconference. The task force continues work on passenger train door securement, “second train in station,” trespasser incidents, and system safety-based solutions by developing a regulatory approach to system safety. The task force has created two task groups to focus on these issues.
The Door Safety Task Group has reached consensus on 47 out of 48 safety issues and had five items that have been remanded to the task force for vote. The issues are addressed in the area of passenger train door mechanical and operational requirements and presented draft regulatory language to the Passenger Safety Working Group at the September 16, 2010, meeting. More work remains to ensure the 49 CFR part 238 door rule consensus document and the proposed APTA door standard (APTA SS-M-18-10) uses uniform language. The document was approved by the Passenger Safety Working Group by electronic vote on March 31, 2011, and approved by the RSAC on May 20, 2011. This rulemaking would amend the passenger equipment safety standards to enhance safety standards as they relate to passenger door securement while a passenger train is in service based on research and experiences of FRA safety inspectors. Specifically, FRA would incorporate by reference APTA standard: “APTA SS-M-18-10 Standard for Powered Exterior Side Door System Design for New Passenger Cars.” A draft NPRM is currently under development with a target publication date of September 2012. No additional Door Task Group meetings are currently scheduled.Contact:Brian Hontz, (610) 521-8220.
The System Safety Task Group has produced draft regulatory language for a System Safety Rule, but work on this rulemaking was delayed until a study of legal protections for Risk Reduction Program (RRP) and System Safety Program (SSP) risk analysis data that is required by the Rail Safety ImprovementAct of 2008 (RSIA) was completed. The System Safety rulemaking would improve passenger railroad safety through structured, proactive processes and procedures developed by passenger railroad operators. It would require passenger railroads to establish an SSP that would systematically evaluate and manage risks in order to reduce the number and rates of railroad accidents, incidents, injuries, and fatalities. FRA continued to work on a draft NPRM while waiting for the legal review of protection of hazard analysis information, required by Section 109 of the RSIA. The Office of Chief Counsel completed a legal study and posted it on the FRA Web site and in the docket. The General Passenger Safety Task Force including the members of the System Safety Task Group met on February 1-2, 2012, and continued work on finalizing the draft NPRM language. The resulting NPRM was published on September 7, 2012 (77 FR 55372), with comments due by November 6, 2012. No additional System Safety Task Group meetings are currently scheduled.Contact:Dan Knote, (631) 567-1596.
Task 05-01 Review of Roadway Worker Protection Issues. This task was accepted on January 26, 2005, to review 49 CFR part 214, subpart C, Roadway Worker Protection (RWP), and related sections of Subpart A; to recommend consideration of specific actions to advance the on-track safety of railroad employees and contractors engaged in maintenance-of-way activities throughout the general system of railroad transportation, including clarification of existing requirements. A working group was established and reported any specific actions to the RSAC that it identified as appropriate. The first meeting of the working group was held on April 12-14, 2005. Over the course of 2 years, the group drafted and reached consensus on regulatory language for various revisions, clarifications, and additions to 32 separate items in 19 sections of the rule. However, two parties raised technical concerns regarding one of those items, namely, the draft language concerning electronic display of track authorities. The working group presented and received approval on all of its consensus recommendations for draft rule text to the full RSAC at the June 26, 2007, meeting. FRA will address the issue of electronic display of track authorities, along with eight additional items that the working group was unable to reach consensus, through the traditional NPRM process. In early 2008, the external working group members were solicited to review the consensus rule text for errata review. In order to address the heightened concerns raised with the current regulations for adjacent-track, on-track safety, FRA decided to issue, on an accelerated basis, a separate NPRM that would solely focus on this element of the RWP rule. An NPRM with an abbreviated comment period regarding adjacent-track, on-track safety was published on July 17, 2008, but was later withdrawn on August 13, 2008, to permit further consideration of the RSAC consensus language. A second NPRM concerning adjacent-controlled-track, on-track safety was published on November 25, 2009, and comments were due to the docket by January 25, 2010. Comments were reviewed and considered by FRA, and the final rule was published on November 30, 2011 (76 FR 74586). In response to the final rule, FRA received two petitions for reconsideration that raise a number of substantive issues requiring a detailed response. A delay of the effective date of the final rule and a request for comments was published on March 8, 2012 (77 FR 13978). This document delays the effective date of the final rule until July 1, 2013, and establishes a 60-day comment period in order to permit interested parties an opportunity to respond to the submitted petitions for reconsideration. FRA received five comments on the petitions, some of which raise additional substantive issues or provide further detailed information on the issues already raised. The petitions and comments on the petitions are available for review in the docket for this rulemaking, and have been assigned identification numbers of FRA-2008-0059-0031 and FRA-2008-0059-0032, for the petitions, and identification numbers of FRA-2008-0059-0034, FRA-2008-0059-0035, FRA-2008-0059-0036, FRA-2008-0059-0037, and FRA-2008-0059-0038, for the comments on the petitions. Due to the complex issues raised and extensive estimates provided in the petitions and comments, FRA continues to formulate an appropriate response. FRA's response to the petitions and comments will be published as soon as practicable and will be filed in the same docket.
The remaining larger NPRM relating to the various revisions, clarifications, and additions to 31 separate items in 19 sections of the rule, and FRA's recommendations for 9 nonconsensus items was published on August 20, 2012 (77 FR 50324), with comments due by October 19, 2012.Contact:Joe Riley, (202) 493-6357.
Task 05-02—Reduce Human Factor-Caused Train Accident/Incidents.This task was accepted on May 18, 2005, to reduce the number of human factor-caused train accidents/incidents and related employee injuries. The Railroad Operating Rules Working Group was formed, and the working group extensively reviewed the issues presented. The final working group meeting devoted to developing a proposed rule was held on February 8-9, 2006. The working group was not able to deliver a consensus regulatory proposal, but it did recommend that it be used to review comments on FRA's NPRM, which was published in theFederal Registeron October 12, 2006 (FR 71 60372), with public comments due by December 11, 2006. Two reviews were held, one on February 8-9, 2007, and one on April 4-5, 2007. Consensus was reached on four items and those items were presented and accepted by the full RSAC at the June 26, 2007, meeting. A final rule was published in theFederal Registeron February 13, 2008 (73 FR 8442), with an effective date of April 14, 2008. FRA received four petitions for reconsideration of that final rule. The final rule that responded to the petitions for consideration was published in theFederal Registeron June 16, 2008, and concluded the rulemaking. Working group meetings were held September 27-28, 2007; January 17-18, 2008; May 21-22, 2008; and September 25-26, 2008. The working group has considered issues related to issuance of Emergency Order No. 26 (prohibition on use of certain electronic devices while on duty), and “after arrival mandatory directives,” among other issues. The working group continues to work on after arrival orders and, at the September 25-26, 2008, meeting, voted to create a Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Task Force to review highway-rail grade crossing accident reports regarding incidents of grade crossing warning systems providing “short or no warning” resulting from or contributed to “by train operational issues” with the intent to recommend new accident/incident reporting codes that would better explain such events, and which may provide information for remedial action going forward. A followup task is to review and provide recommendations regarding supplementary reporting of train operations-related, no-warning or short-warning incidents that are not technically warning system activation failures, but that result in an accident/incident or a near miss. The task force has been formed and will begin work after other RSIA priorities are met.Contact:Douglas Taylor, (202) 493-6255.
Task 06-01—Locomotive Safety Standards.This task was accepted on February 22, 2006, to review 49 CFR part 229, Railroad Locomotive Safety Standards, and revise as appropriate. A working group was established with the mandate to report any planned activities to the full Committee at each scheduled full RSAC meeting, to include milestones for completion of projects and progress toward completion. The first working group meeting was held May 8-10, 2006. Working group meetings were held on August 8-9, 2006; September 25-26, 2006; October 30-31, 2006; and the working group presented recommendations regarding revisions to requirements for locomotive sanders to the full RSAC on September 21, 2006. The NPRM regarding sanders was published in theFederal Registeron March 6, 2007 (72 FR 9904). Comments received were discussed by the working group for clarification, and FRA published a final rule on October 19, 2007 (72 FR 59216). The working group met on January 9-10, 2007; November 27-28, 2007; February 5-6, 2008; May 20-21, 2008; August 5-6, 2008; October 22-23, 2008; January 6-7, 2009; and April 15-16, 2009. The working group has now completed the review of 49 CFR part 229 and was unable to reach consensus regarding locomotive cab temperatures standards, locomotive alerters, and remote control locomotives. The group reached consensus regarding critical locomotive electronic standards, updated annual/biennial air brake standards, clarification of the “air brakes operate as intended” requirement, locomotive pilot clearance within hump classification yards, clarification of the “high voltage” warning requirement, an update of “headlight lamp” requirements, and language to allow locomotive records to be stored electronically. The working group presented a 49 CFR part 229 draft rule text revision covering these items to the RSAC for consideration at the September 10, 2009, meeting and received approval. The NPRM was delayed due to competing RSIA priorities and the need for additional language. This rulemaking would amend the rules pertaining to the Locomotive Safety Standards. The proposed amendments would update, consolidate, and clarify existing rules, and adopt existing industry and engineering best practices. The proposed amendments include: updating locomotive inspection recordkeeping requirements by permitting electronic records; consolidating locomotive air brake maintenance into a single provision; clarifying locomotive headlight requirements to address new technology; and, establishing locomotive electronics standards based on existing industry and engineering best practices, as well as other existing Federal electronics standards. This action was taken by FRA in an effort to improve its safety regulator program. The NPRM was published on January 12, 2011 (76 FR 2200), and the final rule was published on April 9, 2012 (77 FR 21312), and a correction to the final rule was published on April 18, 2012 (77 FR 23159).Contact: Steve Clay, (202) 493-6259.