July 3, 2012

FRA proposes rule on rail emergency preparedness

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would clarify certain requirements of the existing emergency preparedness standards for passenger trains and address issues that have arisen since the regulations were issued in May 1998.

The changes would ensure that railroad personnel who communicate and coordinate with first responders during emergency situations receive initial and periodic training and are subject to operational efficiency tests and inspections; clarify that railroads must develop procedures in their emergency preparedness plans addressing the safe evacuation of passengers with disabilities during an emergency situation; limit the need for FRA to formally approve purely administrative changes to approved emergency preparedness plans; and specify new operational efficiency testing and inspection requirements for both operating and non-operating employees for railroads.

The proposed requirements are based on recommendations from FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s (RSAC) General Passenger Safety Task Force. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposed rule by Aug. 27, 2012.

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