FRA announces final rule to prevent runaway trains
Thu, 30 Jul 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. –
The 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
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
- 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
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
To view a copy of the Final Rule, click here.