41 FR 54181, Dec. 13, 1976, unless otherwise noted.
(a) This part prescribes rules of practice that apply to rulemaking and waiver proceedings, review of emergency orders issued under 45 U.S.C. 432, and miscellaneous safety-related proceedings and informal safety inquiries. The specific time limits for disposition of proceedings apply only to proceedings initiated after December 31, 1976, under the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 (45 U.S.C. 421 et seq.). When warranted, FRA will extend these time limits in individual proceedings. However, each proceeding under the Federal Railroad Safety Act shall be disposed of within 12 months after the date it is initiated. A proceeding shall be deemed to be initiated and the time period for its disposition shall begin on the date a petition or application that complies with the requirements of this chapter is received by the person designated in § 211.7.
(b) As used in this part -
(1) Administrator means the Federal Railroad Administrator or the Deputy Administrator or the delegate of either of them.
(2) Waiver includes exemption.
(3) Safety Act means the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, as amended (45 U.S.C. 421 et seq.).
(4) Docket Clerk means the Docket Clerk, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Mail Stop 10, Washington, DC 20590 or the Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations (M-30), West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
(5) Railroad Safety Board means the Railroad Safety Board, Office of Safety, Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, DC 20590.
(c) Records relating to proceedings and inquiries subject to this part are available for inspection as provided in part 7 of this title.
Any person may participate in proceedings and inquiries subject to this part by submitting written information or views. The Administrator may also permit any person to participate in additional proceedings, such as informal appearances, conferences, or hearings at which a transcript or minutes are kept, to assure informed administrative action and protect the public interest.
(1) Records of the Federal Railroad Administration created after November 1, 1998, concerning each proceeding subject to this part are maintained in current docket form by the Federal Docket Management System. These records include rulemaking and waiver petitions, emergency orders, notices, comments received in response to notices, hearing transcripts, final rules, denials of rulemaking petitions, grants and denial of waiver and other petitions. Also included are records pertaining to applications for special approval under §§ 211.55 and 238.21 of this chapter, petitions for grandfathering approval under § 238.203 of this chapter, signal applications under parts 235 and 236 of this chapter, and informal safety inquiries under § 211.61.
(2) Any person may examine docketed material created after November 1, 1998:
(i) At the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations (M-30), West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Copies of docketed materials may be obtained upon payment of the fees prescribed by the Federal Docket Management System, or
(ii) Through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. All docketed materials are available for viewing and may be downloaded for electronic storage or printing. There is no charge for this service.
(b) Records of the Federal Railroad Administration created before November 1, 1998, concerning each proceeding subject to this part are available in FRA's Docket Office, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Any person may examine docketed material at that location during normal business hours. Copies of docketed material may be obtained upon payment of the fees prescribed in part 7 of this title.
(c) Any person may examine docketed material in the office where it is maintained. Copies of docketed material other than commercially prepared transcripts may be obtained upon payment of the fees prescribed in part 7 of this title.
(a) Any person may petition the Administrator for issuance, amendment, repeal or permanent or temporary waiver of any rule or regulation. A petition for waiver must be submitted at least 3 months before the proposed effective date, unless good cause is shown for not doing so.
(1) All petitions and applications subject to this part, including applications for special approval under §§ 211.55 and 238.21 of this chapter, petitions for grandfathering approval under § 238.203 of this chapter, and signal applications under parts 235 and 236 of this chapter, shall be submitted to the FRA Docket Clerk. Each petition received shall be acknowledged in writing. The acknowledgment shall contain the docket number assigned to the petition or application and state the date the petition or application was received. Within 60 days following receipt, FRA will advise the petitioner or applicant of any deficiencies in its petition or application.
(2) All comments submitted in response to a notice and other material pertaining to proceedings subject to this part, including comments submitted in response to requests for special approval under § 211.55 and § 238.21 of this chapter, petitions for grandfathering approval under § 238.203 of this chapter, and signal applications under parts 235 and 236 of this chapter, shall be submitted to the Federal Docket Management System and shall contain the assigned docket number for that proceeding. The form of such submissions may be in written or electronic form consistent with the standards and requirements established by the Federal Docket Management System and posted on its web site at http://www.regulations.gov.
Each petition for rulemaking or waiver must:
(a) Set forth the text or substance of the rule, regulation, standard or amendment proposed, or specify the rule, regulation or standard that the petitioner seeks to have repealed or waived, as the case may be;
(b) Explain the interest of the petitioner, and the need for the action requested; in the case of a petition for waiver, explain the nature and extent of the relief sought, and identify and describe the persons, equipment, installations and locations to be covered by the waiver;
(c) Contain sufficient information to support the action sought including an evaluation of anticipated impacts of the action sought; each evaluation shall include an estimate of resulting costs to the private sector, to consumers, and to Federal, State and local governments as well as an evaluation of resulting benefits, quantified to the extent practicable. Each petition pertaining to safety regulations must also contain relevant safety data.
(a) General. Each petition for rulemaking filed as prescribed in §§ 211.7 and 211.9 is referred to the head of the office responsible for the subject matter of the petition to review and recommend appropriate action to the Administrator. No public hearing or oral argument is held before the Administrator decides whether the petition should be granted. However, a notice may be published in the Federal Register inviting written comments concerning the petition. Each petition shall be granted or denied not later than six months after its receipt by the Docket Clerk.
(b) Grants. If the Administrator determines that a rulemaking petition complies with the requirements of § 211.9 and that rulemaking is justified, he initiates a rulemaking proceeding by publishing an advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register.
(c) Denials. If the Administrator determines that a rulemaking petition does not comply with the requirements of § 211.9 or that rulemaking is not justified, he denies the petition. If the petition pertains to railroad safety, the Administrator may also initiate an informal safety inquiry under § 211.61.
(d) Notification; closing of docket. Whenever the Administrator grants or denies a rulemaking petition, a notice of the grant or denial is mailed to the petitioner. If the petition is denied, the proceeding is terminated and the docket for that petition is closed.
The Administrator initiates all rulemaking proceedings on his own motion by publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking or a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register. However, he may consider the recommendations of interested persons or other agencies of the United States. A separate docket is established and maintained for each rulemaking proceeding. Each rulemaking proceeding shall be completed not later than 12 months after the initial notice in that proceeding is published in the Federal Register. However, if it was initiated as the result of the granting of a rulemaking petition, the rulemaking proceeding shall be completed not later than 12 months after the petition was filed as prescribed in §§ 211.7 and 211.9.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, or when the Administrator finds for good cause that notice is impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest (and incorporates the findings and a brief statement of the reasons therefore in the rules issued), an advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register and interested persons are invited to participate in the rulemaking proceedings with respect to each substantive rule.
(b) Unless the Administrator determines that notice and public rulemaking proceedings are necessary or desirable, interpretive rules, general statements of policy, and rules relating to organization, procedure, or practice, including those relating to agency management or personnel, are prescribed as final without notice or other public rulemaking proceedings.
(c) An advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking is issued and interested persons are invited to participate in rulemaking proceedings with respect only to those procedural and substantive rules of general applicability relating to public property, loans, grants, benefits, or contracts which the Administrator has determined to be of substantial public interest.
Each advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register and includes -
(a) A statement of the time, place and nature of the proposed rulemaking proceeding;
(b) A reference to the authority under which it is issued;
(c) A description of the subjects or issues involved or the substance or terms of the proposed rule;
(d) A statement of the time within which written comments must be submitted and the required number of copies; and
(e) A statement of how and to what extent interested persons may participate in the proceeding.
(a) Any person may petition the Administrator for an extension of time to submit comments in response to an advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking. The petition must be received by the FRA Docket Clerk not later than 10 days before expiration of the time stated in the notice and must contain reference to the FRA docket number for the proceeding involved. The filing of the petition does not automatically extend the time for petitioner's comments.
(b) The Administrator grants the petition only if the petitioner shows a substantive interest in the proposed rule and good cause for the extension, and if time permits and the extension is in the public interest. Extensions will not be granted unless time permits and will not exceed one month. If an extension is granted, it is granted as to all persons and a notice of the extension is published in the Federal Register.
All timely comments are considered before final action is taken on a rulemaking proposal. Late-filed comments will be considered so far as possible without incurring additional expense or delay.
The Administrator may conduct other public proceedings that he finds necessary or desirable. For example, he may invite interested persons to present oral arguments, participate in conferences, or appear at informal hearings.
(a) A hearing will be held if required by statute or the Administrator finds it necessary or desirable.
(b) Except for statutory hearings required to be on the record -
(1) Hearings are fact-finding proceedings, and there are no formal pleadings or adverse parties;
(2) Any rule issued in a proceeding in which a hearing is held is not based exclusively on the record of the hearing; and
(3) Hearings are conducted in accordance with section 553 of title 5, U.S.C.; section 556 and 557 of title 5 do not apply to hearings held under this part.
(c) The Administrator conducts or designates a representative to conduct any hearing held under this part. The Chief Counsel serves or designates a member of his staff to serve as legal officer at the hearing.
Whenever the Administrator adopts a final rule or withdraws an advance notice or notice of proposed rulemaking, the final rule or a notice of withdrawal is published in the Federal Register.
(a) Any person may petition the Administrator for reconsideration of any rule issued under this part. Except for good cause shown, such a petition must be submitted not later than 60 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register, or 10 days prior to the effective date of the rule, whichever is the earlier. The petition must contain a brief statement of the complaint and an explanation as to why compliance with the rule is not possible, is not practicable, is unreasonable, or is not in the public interest.
(b) If the petitioner requests consideration of additional facts, he must state the reason they were not presented to the Administrator within the allotted time.
(c) The Administrator does not consider repetitious petitions.
(d) Unless the Administrator specifically provides otherwise, and publishes notice thereof in the Federal Register, the filing of a petition under this section does not stay the effectiveness of a rule.
(a) The Administrator may grant or deny, in whole or in part, any petition for reconsideration of a final rule without further proceedings. Each petition shall be decided not later than 4 months after its receipt by the Docket Clerk. In the event he determines to reconsider a rule, the Administrator may amend the rule or initiate a new rulemaking proceeding. An appropriate notice is published in the Federal Register.
(b) Whenever the Administrator determines that a petition should be granted or denied, a notice of the grant or denial of a petition for reconsideration is sent to the petitioner. When a petition is granted, a notice is published in the Federal Register.
(c) The Administrator may consolidate petitions relating to the same rule.
(a) Rules that the Administrator judges to be noncontroversial and unlikely to result in adverse public comment may be published in the final rule section of the Federal Register as direct final rules. These include noncontroversial rules that:
(1) Affect internal procedures of the Federal Railroad Administration, such as filing requirements and rules governing inspection and copying of documents,
(2) Are nonsubstantive clarifications or corrections to existing rules,
(3) Update existing forms, and
(4) Make minor changes in the substantive rules regarding statistics and reporting requirements.
(b) The Federal Register document will state that any adverse comment must be received in writing by the Federal Railroad Administration within the specified time after the date of publication and that, if no written adverse comment or request for oral hearing (if such opportunity is required by statute) is received, the rule will become effective a specified number of days after the date of publication.
(c) If no adverse comment or request for oral hearing is received by the Federal Railroad Administration within the specified time of publication in the Federal Register, the Federal Railroad Administration will publish a notice in the Federal Register indicating that no adverse comment was received and confirming that the rule will become effective on the date that was indicated in the direct final rule.
(d) If the Federal Railroad Administration receives any written adverse comment or request for oral hearing within the specified time of publication in the Federal Register, a notice withdrawing the direct final rule will be published in the final rule section of the Federal Register and, if the Federal Railroad Administration decides a rulemaking is warranted, a notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in the proposed rule section of the Federal Register.
(e) An “adverse” comment for the purpose of this subpart means any comment that the Federal Railroad Administration determines is critical of the rule, suggests that the rule should not be adopted, or suggests a change that should be made in the rule.
(a) General. Each petition for a permanent or temporary waiver of a safety rule, regulation or standard filed as prescribed in §§ 211.7 and 211.9, is referred to the Railroad Safety Board for decision and decided not later than 9 months after receipt.
(b) Notice and hearing. If required by statute or the Administrator or the Railroad Safety Board deems it desirable, a notice is published in the Federal Register, an opportunity for public comment is provided, and a hearing is held in accordance with § 211.25, before the petition is granted or denied.
(c) Grants. If the Railroad Safety Board determines that the petition complies with the requirements of § 211.9 and that a waiver is justified, it grants the petition. Conditions may be imposed on the grant of waiver if the Board concludes they are necessary to assure safety or are in the public interest.
(d) Denials. If the Railroad Safety Board determines that the petition does not comply with the requirements of § 211.9 or that a waiver is not justified, it denies the petition.
(e) Notification. Whenever the Railroad Safety Board grants or denies a petition, a notice of that grant or denial is sent to the petitioner. When a petition has been decided, interested persons are also notified or a notice is published in the Federal Register.
(b) Notice and hearing. If required by statute or the Administrator deems it desirable, a notice is published in the Federal Register, an opportunity for public comment is provided, and a hearing is held in accordance with § 211.25, before the petition is granted or denied.
(c) Grants. If the Administrator determines that the petition complies with the requirements of § 211.9 and that a waiver is justified, he grants the waiver. Conditions may be imposed on the grant of waiver if the Administrator concludes they are necessary to achieve the purposes of programs affected by the grant of waiver or are otherwise in the public interest.
(d) Denials. If the Administrator determines that the petition does not comply with the requirements of § 211.9 or that a waiver is not justified, he denies the waiver.
(e) Notification. Whenever the Administrator grants or denies a petition, a notice of the grant or denial is sent to the petitioner. When a petition has been decided, interested persons are also notified or a notice is published in the Federal Register.
(a) General. This section applies only to petitions for waiver of a safety rule, regulation, or standard that FRA determines are directly related to the occurrence of, or imminent threat of, an emergency event or an emergency situation. For purposes of this section, the terms “emergency event” and “emergency situation” mean a natural or manmade disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, earthquake, mudslide, forest fire, snowstorm, terrorist act, biological outbreak, release of a dangerous radiological, chemical, explosive, or biological material, or a war-related activity, that poses a risk of death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property damage. The disaster may be local, regional, or national in scope.
(b) Emergency Relief Docket. Each calendar year FRA creates an Emergency Relief Docket (ERD) in the publicly accessible Federal eRulemaking Portal (FeP). The FeP can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via the Internet at the docket's Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. All documents in the FeP are available for inspection and copying on the Web site or are available for examination at the DOT Docket Management Facility, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590 during regular business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m.). By January 31st of each year, FRA publishes a notice in the Federal Register identifying by docket number the ERD for that year. A notice will also be placed in the previous year's ERD identifying the new docket number.
(c) Determining the existence of an emergency event or an emergency situation. If the Administrator determines that an emergency event or an emergency situation identified in paragraph (a) of this section has occurred, or that an imminent threat of it occurring exists, and determines that public safety or recovery efforts require that the provisions of this section be implemented, the Administrator will activate the Emergency Relief Docket identified in paragraph (b) of this section. In determining whether an emergency exists, the Administrator may consider declarations of emergency made by local, State, or Federal officials, and determinations by the Federal government that a credible threat of a terrorist attack exists.
(d) Notification. When possible, FRA will post the FRA Administrator's determination described in paragraph (c) of this section on its Web site at http://www.fra.dot.gov. FRA will also place the FRA Administrator's determination in the ERD as soon as practicable.
(e) Content of petitions for emergency waivers. Petitions submitted to FRA pursuant to this section should specifically address how the petition is related to the emergency, and to the extent practicable, contain the information required under § 211.9(a) and (b). The petition should at a minimum describe the following: how the petitioner or public is affected by the emergency (including the impact on railroad operations); what FRA regulations are implicated by the emergency (e.g., movement of defective equipment); how waiver of the implicated regulations would benefit petitioner during the emergency; and how long the petitioner expects to be affected by the emergency.
(f) Filing requirements. Petitions filed under this section, shall be submitted using any of the following methods:
(1) E-mail to FRA at: RRS.Correspondence@fra.dot.gov;
(2) Facsimile to FRA at: 202-493-6309; or
(3) Mail to FRA at: FRA Docket Clerk, Office of Chief Counsel, RCC-10, Mail Stop 10, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590, facsimile no. 202-493-6068.
(g) FRA Handling and Initial Review. Upon receipt and initial review of a petition for waiver, to verify that it meets the criteria for use of these emergency procedures, FRA will add the petition to the ERD. The FeP numbers each document that is added to a docket. (For example, the first document submitted to the docket in 2009 will be identified as FRA-2009-XXX-1.) Thus, each petition submitted to the ERD will have a unique document number which should be identified on all communications related to petitions contained in this docket. If FRA determines that the petition does not meet the criteria for use of these emergency procedures, FRA will notify the petitioner and will process the petition under normal waiver procedures of this subpart.
(h) Comments. Although the Administrator may waive compliance with any part of a regulation prescribed or order issued without prior notice and comment, comments may be submitted. Comments should be submitted as soon as possible, after a petition is available on the FeP. Any comment received will be considered to the extent practicable. All comments should identify the appropriate ERD and should identify the specific document number of the petition designated by the FeP in the ERD. Interested parties commenting on a petition under this section should also include in their comments to the ERD telephone numbers at which their representatives may be reached. Interested parties may submit their comments using any of the following methods:
(1) E-mail to FRA at: RRS.Correspondence@fra.dot.gov.
(2) Facsimile to FRA at: 202-493-6309.
(3) Mail to the Docket Clerk, DOT Docket Management Facility, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590 or electronically via the internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Any comments or information sent directly to FRA will be immediately provided to the DOT FeP for inclusion in the ERD.
(i) Request for hearing. Although the Administrator may waive compliance with any part of a regulation prescribed or order issued without prior notice and comment, parties desiring a public hearing on any petition being processed under this section must notify FRA through the comment process identified in paragraph (h) of this section within 72 hours from the close of business on the day that the petition is entered into and available on the FeP. In response to a request for a public hearing, FRA may:
(1) Arrange a telephone conference between all interested parties to provide an opportunity for oral comment;
(2) Arrange a public hearing pursuant to the provisions contained in 49 CFR part 211; or
(3) Determine that a public hearing is unnecessary, inconsistent with safety, or not in the public interest.
(j) Decisions. FRA may grant a petition for waiver without prior notice and comment if the Administrator determines that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver; the waiver is not inconsistent with railroad safety; and the waiver is necessary to address an actual or impending emergency situation or emergency event. The Administrator will state in the decision issued under this section the reasons for granting the waiver.
(1) FRA reserves the right to reopen any docket and reconsider any decision made pursuant to these emergency procedures based upon its own initiative or based upon information or comments otherwise received.
(2) FRA decision letters, either granting or denying a petition, will be posted in the appropriate ERD and will reference the document number of the petition to which it relates.
(3) A waiver under this section may be issued for a period of not more that 60 days and may be renewed upon application to the Administrator only after notice and an opportunity for a hearing on the waiver. The Administrator will immediately revoke the waiver if continuation of the waiver would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of this part.
(4) In granting a waiver under this section, the Administrator will consult and coordinate with other Federal agencies, as appropriate, for matters that may significantly impact such agencies.
[74 FR 23335, May 19, 2009]
(a) As specified in section 203, Public Law 91-458, 84 Stat. 972 (45 U.S.C. 432), opportunity for review of Emergency orders issued under that section will be provided in accordance with section 554 of title 5 of the U.S.C. Petitions for such review must be submitted in writing to the Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, DC 20590. Upon receipt of a petition, FRA will immediately contact the petitioner and make the necessary arrangements for a conference to be held at the earliest date acceptable to the petitioner. At this conference, the petitioner will be afforded an opportunity to submit facts, arguments and proposals for modification or withdrawal of the Emergency order. If the controversy is not resolved at the conference and a hearing is desired, the petitioner must submit a written request for a hearing within 15 days after the conference. The hearing will commence within 14 calendar days f receipt of the request and will be conducted in accordance with sections 556 and 575, title 5, U.S.C. Each petition for review shall be decided not later than 3 months after receipt.
(b) Unless stayed or modified by the Administrator, the requirements of each Emergency order shall remain in effect and be observed pending decision on a petition for review.
(a) Pursuant to the Department of Transportation Act (80 Stat. 931, 49 U.S.C. 1651 et seq.), the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 (84 Stat. 971, 45 U.S.C. 421, 431-441), or both, the Administrator may temporarily suspend compliance with a substantive rule of the Federal Railroad Administration, if:
(1) The suspension is necessary to the conduct of a Federal Railroad Administration approved test program designed to evaluate the effectiveness of new technology or operational approaches or instituted in furtherance of a present or proposed rulemaking proceeding;
(2) The suspension is limited in scope and application to such relief as may be necessary to facilitate the conduct of the test program; and
(3) The suspension is conditioned on the observance of standards sufficient to assure safety.
(b) When required by statute, a notice is published in the Federal Register, an opportunity is provided for public comment, and a hearing is held in accordance with § 211.25, before the FRA approved test program is implemented.
(c) When the Administrator approves suspension of compliance with any rule in connection with a test program, a description of the test program containing an explanatory statement responsive to paragraph (a) of this section is published in the Federal Register.
Applications for approval of discontinuance or material modification of a signal system authorized by part 235 or waiver of a requirement of part 236 of this chapter must be submitted in accordance with § 211.7, handled in accordance with procedures set forth in part 235 or 236, respectively, and decided not later than 9 months after receipt. When a decision is issued, the applicant and other interested parties are notified or a notice is published in the Federal Register.
Requests for special approval pertaining to safety not otherwise provided for in this chapter, must be submitted in accordance with § 211.7; specifying the action requested. These requests shall be considered by the Railroad Safety Board and appropriate action shall be taken not later than 9 months after receipt. When a decision is issued, the requestor and other interested parties are notified or a notice is published in the Federal Register.
(b) The petition must specify with particularity the grounds for modification or revocation of the action in question.
(c) The Administrator does not consider repetitious petitions.
(d) Unless the Administrator specifically provides otherwise, and gives notice to interested parties or publishes notice in the Federal Register, the filing of a petition under this section does not stay the effectiveness of the action sought to be reconsidered.
(a) The Administrator may invite public comment or seek a response from the party at whose request the final action was taken before deciding a petition for reconsideration submitted under § 211.57.
(b) The Administrator may reaffirm, modify, or revoke the final action without further proceedings and shall issue notification of his decision to the petitioner and other interested parties or publish a notice in the Federal Register. Each petition for reconsideration shall be decided not later than 4 months after receipt. Petitions for reconsideration relating to the same rule may be consolidated for decision. In the event the Administrator determines to reconsider a final action, and appropriate notice is published in the Federal Register.
The Administrator may conduct informal safety inquiries to collect information on selected topics relating to railroad safety. A notice of each such inquiry will be published in the Federal Register outlining the area of inquiry and inviting interested persons to assist by submitting written material or participating in informal public conferences and discussions. Upon completion of the inquiry, the Administrator will review the information obtained and may, on his own motion, initiate a rulemaking proceeding under § 211.13 or take whatever other action he deems appropriate.
44 FR 13029, Mar. 9, 1979, unless otherwise noted.
(a) This subpart consists of interim procedures for the review of emergency orders issued under section 203 of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, supplementing § 211.47 of this part.
(b) Proceedings under this subpart are subject to the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 554-559.
(c) Notwithstanding § 211.1 of this part, as used in this subpart Administrator means the Federal Railroad Administrator or Deputy Administrator.
(a) An administrative hearing for the review of an emergency order is presided over by the Administrator or by an administrative law judge designated at the request of FRA pursuant to 5 CFR 930.213.
(b) The presiding officer may exercise the powers of the FRA to regulate the conduct of the hearing and associated proceedings for the purpose of achieving a prompt and fair determination of all material issues in controversy.
(c) The final decision of the presiding officer shall set forth findings and conclusions based on the administrative record. That decision may set aside, modify or affirm the requirements of the emergency order under review.
(d) Except as provided in § 211.77, the decision of the presiding officer is administratively final.
(a) The Federal Rules of Evidence for United States Courts and Magistrates shall be employed as general guidelines for the introduction of evidence in proceedings under this subpart. However, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, all relevant and probative evidence offered by a party shall be received in evidence.
(b) The presiding officer may deny the admission of evidence which is determined to be -
(1) Unduly repetitive; or
(2) So extensive and lacking in relevance or probative effect that its admission would impair the prompt, orderly, and fair resolution of the proceeding.
(a) Any party aggrieved by the final decision of a presiding officer (other than the Administrator) may appeal to the Administrator. The appeal must be filed within twenty (20) days from issuance of the presiding officer's decision and must set forth the specific exceptions of the party to the decision, making reference to the portions of the administrative record which are believed to support the exceptions. The notice of appeal and any supporting papers shall be accompanied by a certificate stating that they have been served on all parties to the proceeding.
1. By statute, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) may grant a waiver of any rule or order if the waiver “is in the public interest and consistent with railroad safety.” 49 U.S.C. 20103(d). Waiver petitions are reviewed by FRA's Railroad Safety Board (the “Safety Board”) under the provisions of 49 CFR part 211. Waiver petitions must contain the information required by 49 CFR 211.9. The Safety Board can, in granting a waiver, impose any conditions it concludes are necessary to assure safety or are in the public interest. If the conditions under which the waiver was granted change substantially, or unanticipated safety issues arise, FRA may modify or withdraw a waiver in order to ensure safety.
2. Light rail equipment, commonly referred to as trolleys or street railways, is not designed to be used in situations where there is a reasonable likelihood of a collision with much heavier and stronger conventional rail equipment. However, existing conventional railroad tracks and rights-of-way provide attractive opportunities for expansion of light rail service.
3. Light rail operators who intend to share use of the general railroad system trackage with conventional equipment and/or whose operations constitute commuter service (see appendix A of 49 CFR part 209 for relevant definitions) will either have to comply with FRA's safety rules or obtain a waiver of appropriate rules. Light rail operators whose operations meet the definition of urban rapid transit and who will share a right-of-way or corridor with a conventional railroad but will not share trackage with that railroad will be subject to only those rules that pertain to any significant point of connection to the general system, such as a rail crossing at grade, a shared method of train control, or shared highway-rail grade crossings.
4. Shared use of track refers to situations where light rail transit operators conduct their operations over the lines of the general system, and includes light rail operations that are wholly separated in time (temporally separated) from conventional operations as well as light rail operations operating on the same trackage at the same time as conventional rail equipment (simultaneous joint use). Where shared use of general system trackage is contemplated, FRA believes a comprehensive waiver request covering all rules for which a waiver is sought makes the most sense. FRA suggests that a petitioner caption such a waiver petition as a Petition for Approval of Shared Use so as to distinguish it from other types of waiver petitions. The light rail operator should file the petition. All other affected railroads will be able to participate in the waiver proceedings by commenting on the petition and providing testimony at a hearing on the petition if anyone requests such a hearing. If any other railroad will be affected by the proposed operation in such a way as to necessitate a waiver of any FRA rule, that railroad may either join with the light rail operator in filing the comprehensive petition or file its own petition.
5. In situations where the light rail operator is an urban rapid transit system that will share a right-of-way or corridor with the conventional railroad but not share trackage, any waiver petition should cover only the rules that may apply at any significant points of connection between the rapid transit line and the other railroad. A Petition for Approval of Shared Use would not be appropriate in such a case.
I. Preliminary Jurisdictional Determinations
Where a light rail operator is uncertain whether the planned operation will be subject to FRA's safety jurisdiction and, if so, to what extent, the operator may wish to obtain FRA's views on the jurisdictional issues before filing a waiver petition. In that case, the light rail operator (here including a transit authority that may not plan to actually operate the system itself) should write to FRA requesting such a determination. The letter should be addressed to Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Mail Stop 10, Washington, DC 20590, with a copy to the Associate Administrator for Safety at the same address at Mail Stop 25. The letter should address the criteria (found in 49 CFR part 209, appendix A) FRA uses to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a rail operation and to distinguish commuter from urban rapid transit service. A complete description of the nature of the contemplated operation is essential to an accurate determination. FRA will attempt to respond promptly to such a request. Of course, FRA's response will be based only on the facts as presented by the light rail operator. If FRA subsequently learns that the facts are different from those presented or have changed substantially, FRA may revise its initial determination.
II. General Factors To Address in a Petition for Approval of Shared Use
1. Like all waiver petitions, a Petition for Approval of Shared Use will be reviewed by the Safety Board. A non-voting FTA liaison to the Safety Board will participate in an advisory capacity in the Safety Board's consideration of all such petitions. This close cooperation between the two agencies will ensure that FRA benefits from the insights, particularly with regard to operational and financial issues, that FTA can provide about light rail operations, as well as from FTA's knowledge of and contacts with state safety oversight programs. This working relationship will also ensure that FTA has a fuller appreciation of the safety issues involved in each specific shared use operation and a voice in shaping the safety requirements that will apply to such operations.
2. FRA resolves each waiver request on its own merits based on the information presented and the agency's own investigation of the issues. In general, the greater the safety risks inherent in a proposed operation the greater will be the mitigation measures required. While FRA cannot state in advance what kinds of waivers will be granted or denied, we can provide guidance to those who may likely be requesting waivers to help ensure that their petitions address factors that FRA will no doubt consider important.
3. FRA's procedural rules give a general description of what any waiver petition should contain, including an explanation of the nature and extent of the relief sought; a description of the persons, equipment, installations, and locations to be covered by the waiver; an evaluation of expected costs and benefits; and relevant safety data. 49 CFR 211.9. The procedural rules, of course, are not specifically tailored to situations involving light rail operations over the general system, where waiver petitions are likely to involve many of FRA's regulatory areas. In such situations, FRA suggests that a Petition for Approval of Shared Use address the following general factors.
A. Description of operations. You should explain the frequency and speeds of all operations on the line and the nature of the different operations. You should explain the nature of any connections between the light rail and conventional operations.
•If the light rail line will operate on any segments (e.g., a street railway portion) that will not be shared by a conventional railroad, describe those segments and their connection with the shared use segments. If the petitioner has not previously sought and received a determination from FRA concerning jurisdictional issues, explain, using the criteria set out in 49 CFR part 209, Appendix A, whether the light rail operation is, in the petitioner's view, a commuter operation or urban rapid transit.
•You should describe precisely what the respective hours of operation will be for each type of equipment on the shared use segments. If light rail and conventional operations will occur only at different times of day, describe what means of protection will ensure that the different types of equipment are not operated simultaneously on the same track, and how protection will be provided to ensure that, where one set of operations begins and the other ends, there can be no overlap that would possibly result in a collision.
•If the light rail and conventional operations will share trackage during the same time periods, the petitioners will face a steep burden of demonstrating that extraordinary safety measures will be taken to adequately reduce the likelihood of a collision between conventional and light rail equipment to the point where the safety risks associated with joint use would be acceptable. You should explain the nature of such simultaneous joint use, the system of train control, the frequency and proximity of both types of operations, the training and qualifications of all operating personnel in both types of operations, and all methods that would be used to prevent collisions. You should also include a quantitative risk assessment concerning the risk of collision between the light rail and conventional equipment under the proposed operating scenario.
B. Description of equipment. (1) You should describe all equipment that will be used by the light rail and conventional operations. Where the light rail equipment does not meet the standards of 49 CFR part 238, you should provide specifics on the crash survivability of the light rail equipment, such as static end strength, sill height, strength of corner posts and collision posts, side strength, etc.
(2) Given the structural incompatibility of light rail and conventional equipment, FRA has grave concerns about the prospect of operating these two types of equipment simultaneously on the same track. If the light rail and conventional operations will share trackage during the same time periods, you should provide an engineering analysis of the light rail equipment's resistance to damage in various types of collisions, including a worst case scenario involving a failure of the collision avoidance systems resulting in a collision between light rail and conventional equipment at track speeds.
C. Alternative safety measures to be employed in place of each rule for which waiver is sought. The petition should specify exactly which rules the petitioner desires to be waived. For each rule, the petition should explain exactly how a level of safety at least equal to that afforded by the FRA rule will be provided by the alternative measures the petitioner proposes.
(1) Most light rail operations that entail some shared use of the general system will also have segments that are not on the general system. FTA's rules on rail fixed guideway systems will probably apply to those other segments. If so, the petition for waiver of FRA's rules should explain how the system safety program plan adopted under FTA's rules may affect safety on the portions of the system where FRA's rules apply. Under certain circumstances, effective implementation of such a plan may provide FRA sufficient assurance that adequate measures are in place to warrant waiver of certain FRA rules.
(2) In its petition, the light rail operator may want to certify that the subject matter addressed by the rule to be waived is addressed by the system safety plan and that the light rail operation will be monitored by the state safety oversight program. That is likely to expedite FRA's processing of the petition. FRA will analyze information submitted by the petitioner to demonstrate that a safety matter is addressed by the light rail operator's system safety plan. Alternately, conditional approval may be requested at an early stage in the project, and FRA would thereafter review the system safety program plan's status to determine readiness to commence operations. Where FRA grants a waiver, the state agency will oversee the area addressed by the waiver, but FRA will actively participate in partnership with FTA and the state agency to address any safety problems.
D. Documentation of agreement with affected railroads. Conventional railroads that will share track with the light rail operation need not join as a co-petitioner in the light rail operator's petition. However, the petition should contain documentation of the precise terms of the agreement between the light rail operator and the conventional railroad concerning any actions that the conventional railroad must take to ensure effective implementation of alternative safety measures. For example, if temporal separation is planned, FRA expects to see the conventional railroad's written acceptance of its obligations to ensure that the separation is achieved. Moreover, if the arrangements for the light rail service will require the conventional railroad to employ any alternative safety measures rather than strictly comply with FRA's rules, that railroad will have to seek its own waiver (or join in the light rail operator's petition).
III. Waiver Petitions Involving No Shared Use of Track and Limited Connections Between Light Rail and Conventional Operations
Even where there is no shared use of track, light rail operators may be subject to certain FRA rules based on limited, but significant connections to the general system.
1. Rail crossings at grade. Where a light rail operation and a conventional railroad have a crossing at grade, several FRA rules may apply to the light rail operation at the point of connection. If movements at the crossing are governed by a signal system, FRA's signal rules (49 CFR parts 233, 235, and 236) apply, as do the signal provisions of the hours of service statute, 49 U.S.C. 21104. To the extent radio communication is used to direct the movements, the radio rules (part 220) apply. The track rules (part 213) cover any portion of the crossing that may affect the movement of the conventional railroad. Of course, if the conventional railroad has responsibility for compliance with certain of the rules that apply at that point (for example, where the conventional railroad maintains the track and signals and dispatches all trains), the light rail operator will not have compliance responsibility for those rules and would not need a waiver.
2. Shared train control systems. Where a light rail operation is governed by the same train control system as a conventional railroad (e.g., at a moveable bridge that they both traverse), the light rail operator will be subject to applicable FRA rules (primarily the signal rules in parts 233, 235, and 236) if it has maintenance or operating responsibility for the system.
3. Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. Light rail operations over highway-rail grade crossings also used by conventional trains will be subject to FRA's rules on grade crossing signal system safety (part 234) and the requirement to have auxiliary lights on locomotives (49 CFR 229.125). Even if the conventional railroad maintains the crossing, the light rail operation will still be responsible for reporting and taking appropriate actions in response to warning system malfunctions.
In any of these shared right-of-way situations involving significant connections, the light rail operator may petition for a waiver of any rules that apply to its activities.
IV. Factors To Address Related to Specific Regulations and Statutes
Operators of light rail systems are likely to apply for waivers of many FRA rules. FRA offers the following suggestions on factors petitioners may want to address concerning specific areas of regulation. (All “part” references are to title 49 CFR.) Parts 209 (Railroad Safety Enforcement Procedures), 211 (Rules of Practice), 212 (State Safety Participation), and 216 (Special Notice and Emergency Order Procedures) are largely procedural rules that are unlikely to be the subject of waivers, so those parts are not discussed further. For segments of a light rail line not involving operations over the general system, assuming the light rail operation meets the definition of “rapid transit,” FRA's standards do not apply and the petition need not address those segments with regard to each specific rule from which waivers are sought with regard to shared use trackage.
1. Track, structures, and signals.
A. Track safety standards (part 213). For general system track used by both the conventional and light rail lines, the track standards apply and a waiver is very unlikely. A light rail operation that owns track over which the conventional railroad operates may wish to consider assigning responsibility for that track to the other railroad. If so, the track owner must follow the procedure set forth in 49 CFR 213.5(c). Where such an assignment occurs, the owner and assignee are responsible for compliance.
B. Signal systems reporting requirements (part 233). This part contains reporting requirements with respect to methods of train operation, block signal systems, interlockings, traffic control systems, automatic train stop, train control, and cab signal systems, or other similar appliances, methods, and systems. If a signal system failure occurs on general system track which is used by both conventional and light rail lines, and triggers the reporting requirements of this part, the light rail operator must file, or cooperate fully in the filing of, a signal system report. The petition should explain whether the light rail operator or conventional railroad is responsible for maintaining the signal system. Assuming that the light rail operator (or a contractor hired by this operator) has responsibility for maintaining the signal system, that entity is the logical choice to file each signal failure report, and a waiver is very unlikely. Moreover, since a signal failure first observed by a light rail operator can later have catastrophic consequences for a conventional railroad using the same track, a waiver would jeopardize rail safety on that general system trackage. Even if the conventional railroad is responsible for maintaining the signal systems, the light rail operator must still assist the railroad in reporting all signal failures by notifying the conventional railroad of such failures.
C. Grade crossing signal system safety (part 234). This part contains minimum standards for the maintenance, inspection, and testing of highway-rail grade crossing warning systems, and also prescribes standards for the reporting of system failures and minimum actions that railroads must take when such warning systems malfunction. If a grade crossing accident or warning activation failure occurs during light rail operations on general system track that is used by both conventional and light rail lines, the light rail operator must submit, or cooperate with the other railroad to ensure the submission of, a report to FRA within the required time frame (24 hours for an accident report, or 15 days for a grade crossing signal system activation failure report). The petition should explain whether the light rail operator or conventional railroad is responsible for maintaining the grade crossing devices. Assuming that the light rail operator (or a contractor hired by this operator) has responsibility for maintaining the grade crossing devices, that entity is the logical choice to file each grade crossing signal failure report, and a waiver is very unlikely. Moreover, since a grade crossing warning device failure first observed by a light rail operator can later have catastrophic consequences for a conventional railroad using the same track, a waiver would jeopardize rail safety on that general system trackage. However, if the conventional railroad is responsible for maintaining the grade crossing devices, the light rail operator will still have to assist the railroad in reporting all grade crossing signal failures. Moreover, regardless of which railroad is responsible for maintenance of the grade crossing signals, any railroad (including a light rail operation) operating over a crossing that has experienced an activation failure, partial activation, or false activation must take the steps required by this rule to ensure safety at those locations. While the maintaining railroad will retain all of its responsibilities in such situations (such as contacting train crews and notifying law enforcement agencies), the operating railroad must observe requirements concerning flagging, train speed, and use of the locomotive's audible warning device.
D. Approval of signal system modifications (part 235). This part contains instructions governing applications for approval of a discontinuance or material modification of a signal system or relief from the regulatory requirements of part 236. In the case of a signal system located on general system track which is used by both conventional and light rail lines, a light rail operation is subject to this part only if it (or a contractor hired by the operator) owns or has responsibility for maintaining the signal system. If the conventional railroad does the maintenance, then that railroad would file any application submitted under this part; the light rail operation would have the right to protest the application under § 235.20. The petition should discuss whether the light rail operator or conventional railroad is responsible for maintaining the signal system.
E. Standards for signal and train control systems (part 236). This part contains rules, standards, and instructions governing the installation, inspection, maintenance, and repair of signal and train control systems, devices, and appliances. In the case of a signal system located on general system track which is used by both conventional and light rail lines, a light rail operation is subject to this part only if it (or a contractor hired by the operation) owns or has responsibility for installing, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the signal system. If the light rail operation has these responsibilities, a waiver would be unlikely because a signal failure would jeopardize the safety of both the light rail operation and the conventional railroad. If the conventional railroad assumes all of the responsibilities under this part, the light rail operation would not need a waiver, but it would have to abide by all operational limitations imposed this part and by the conventional railroad. The petition should discuss whether the light rail operator or conventional railroad has responsibility for installing, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the signal system.
2. Motive power and equipment.
A. Railroad noise emission compliance regulations (part 210). FRA issued this rule under the Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. 4916, rather than under its railroad safety authority. Because that statute included a definition of “railroad” borrowed from one of the older railroad safety laws, this part has an exception for “street, suburban, or interurban electric railways unless operated as a part of the general railroad system of transportation.” 49 CFR 210.3(b)(2). The petition should address whether this exception may apply to the light rail operation. Note that this exception is broader than the sole exception to the railroad safety statutes (i.e., urban rapid transit not connected to the general system). The greater the integration of the light rail and conventional operations, the less likely this exception would apply.
If the light rail equipment would normally meet the standards in this rule, there would be no reason to seek a waiver of it. If it appears that the light rail system would neither meet the standards nor fit within the exception, the petition should address noise mitigation measures used on the system, especially as part of a system safety program. Note, however, that FRA lacks the authority to waive certain Environmental Protection Agency standards (40 CFR part 201) that underlie this rule. See 49 CFR 210.11(a).
B. Railroad freight car safety standards (part 215). A light rail operator is likely to move freight cars only in connection with maintenance-of-way work. As long as such cars are properly stenciled in accordance with section 215.305, this part does not otherwise apply, and a waiver would seem unnecessary.
C. Rear end marking devices (part 221). This part requires that each train occupying or operating on main line track be equipped with, display, and continuously illuminate or flash a marking device on the trailing end of the rear car during periods of darkness or other reduced visibility. The device, which must be approved by FRA, must have specific intensity, beam arc width, color, and flash rate characteristics. A light rail operation seeking a waiver of this part will need to explain how other marking devices with which it equips its vehicles, or other means such as train control, will provide the same assurances as this part of a reduced likelihood of collisions attributable to the failure of an approaching train to see the rear end of a leading train in time to stop short of it during periods of reduced visibility. The petition should describe the light rail vehicle's existing marking devices (e.g., headlights, brakelights, taillights, turn signal lights), and indicate whether the vehicle bears reflectors. If the light rail system will operate in both a conventional railroad environment and in streets mixed with motor vehicles, the petition should discuss whether adapting the design of the vehicle's lighting characteristics to conform to FRA's regulations would adversely affect the safety of its operations in the street environment. A light rail system that has a system safety program developed under FTA's rules may choose to discuss how that program addresses the need for equivalent levels of safety when its vehicles operate on conventional railroad corridors.
D. Safety glazing standards (part 223). This part provides that passenger car windows be equipped with FRA-certified glazing materials in order to reduce the likelihood of injury to railroad employees and passengers from the breakage and shattering of windows and avoid ejection of passengers from the vehicle in a collision. This part, in addition to requiring the existence of at least four emergency windows, also requires window markings and operating instructions for each emergency window, as well as for each window intended for emergency access, so as to provide the necessary information for evacuation of a passenger car. FRA will not permit operations to occur on the general system in the absence of effective alternatives to the requirements of this part that provide an equivalent level of safety. The petition should explain what equivalent safeguards are in place to provide the same assurance as part 223 that passengers and crewmembers are safe from the effects of objects striking a light rail vehicle's windows. The petition should also discuss the design characteristics of its equipment when it explains how the safety of its employees and passengers will be assured during an evacuation in the absence of windows meeting the specific requirements of this part. A light rail system that has a system safety program plan developed under FTA's rule may be able to demonstrate that the plan satisfies the safety goals of this part.
E. Locomotive safety standards (part 229). (1) This part contains minimum safety standards for all locomotives, except those propelled by steam power. FRA recognizes that due to the unique characteristics of light rail equipment, some of these provisions may be irrelevant to light rail equipment, and that others may not fit properly in the context of light rail operations. A waiver petition should explain precisely how the light rail system's practices will provide for the safe condition and operation of its locomotive equipment.
(2) FRA is not likely to waive completely the provision (section 229.125) of this rule concerning auxiliary lights designed to warn highway motorists of an approaching train. In order to reduce the risk of grade crossing accidents, it is important that all locomotives used by both conventional railroads and light rail systems present the same distinctive profile to motor vehicle operators approaching grade crossings on the general railroad system. If uniformity is sacrificed by permitting light rail systems to operate locomotives through the same grade crossings traversed by conventional trains with light arrangements placed in different locations on the equipment, safety could be compromised. Accordingly, the vehicle design should maintain the triangular pattern required of other locomotives and cab cars to the extent practicable.
(3) FRA is aware that light rail headlights are likely to produce less than 200,000 candela. While some light rail operators may choose to satisfy the requirements of section 229.125 by including lights on their equipment of different candlepower controlled by dimmer switches, the headlights on the majority of light rail vehicles will likely not meet FRA's minimum requirement. However, based on the nature of the operations of light rail transit, FRA recognizes that waivers of the minimum candela requirement for transit vehicle headlights seems appropriate.
F. Safety appliance laws (49 U.S.C. 20301-20305). (1) Since certain safety appliance requirements (e.g., automatic couplers) are statutory, they can only be “waived” by FRA under the exemption conditions set forth in 49 U.S.C. 20306. Because exemptions requested under this statutory provision do not involve a waiver of a safety rule, regulation, or standard (see 49 CFR 211.41), FRA is not required to follow the rules of practice for waivers contained in part 211. However, whenever appropriate, FRA will combine its consideration of any request for an exemption under § 20306 with its review under part 211 of a light rail operation's petition for waivers of FRA's regulations.
(2) FRA may grant exemptions from the statutory safety appliance requirements in 49 U.S.C. 20301-20305 only if application of such requirements would “preclude the development or implementation of more efficient railroad transportation equipment or other transportation innovations.” 49 U.S.C. 20306. The exemption for technological improvements was originally enacted to further the implementation of a specific type of freight car, but the legislative history shows that Congress intended the exemption to be used elsewhere so that “other types of railroad equipment might similarly benefit.” S. Rep. 96-614 at 8 (1980), reprinted in 1980 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1156,1164.
(3) FRA recognizes the potential public benefits of allowing light rail systems to take advantage of underutilized urban freight rail corridors to provide service that, in the absence of the existing right-of-way, would be prohibitively expensive. Any petitioner requesting an exemption for technological improvements should carefully explain how being forced to comply with the existing statutory safety appliance requirements would conflict with the exemption exceptions set forth at 49 U.S.C. 20306. The petition should also show that granting the exemption is in the public interest and is consistent with assuring the safety of the light rail operator's employees and passengers.
G. Safety appliance standards (part 231). (1) The regulations in this part specify the requisite location, number, dimensions, and manner of application of a variety of railroad car safety appliances (e.g., handbrakes, ladders, handholds, steps), and directly implement a number of the statutory requirements found in 49 U.S.C. 20301-20305. These very detailed regulations are intended to ensure that sufficient safety appliances are available and able to function safely and securely as intended.
(2) FRA recognizes that due to the unique characteristics of light rail equipment, some of these provisions may be irrelevant to light rail operation, and that others may not fit properly in the context of light rail operations (e.g., crewmembers typically do not perform yard duties from positions outside and adjacent to the light rail vehicle or near the vehicle's doors). However, to the extent that the light rail operation encompasses the safety risks addressed by the regulatory provisions of this part, a waiver petition should explain precisely how the light rail system's practices will provide for the safe operation of its passenger equipment. The petition should focus on the design specifications of the equipment, and explain how the light rail system's operating practices, and its intended use of the equipment, will satisfy the safety purpose of the regulations while providing at least an equivalent level of safety.
H. Passenger equipment safety standards (part 238). This part prescribes minimum Federal safety standards for railroad passenger equipment. Since a collision on the general railroad system between light rail equipment and conventional rail equipment could prove catastrophic, because of the significantly greater mass and structural strength of the conventional equipment, a waiver petition should describe the light rail operation's system safety program that is in place to minimize the risk of such a collision. The petition should discuss the light rail operation's operating rules and procedures, train control technology, and signal system. If the light rail operator and conventional railroad will operate simultaneously on the same track, the petition should include a quantitative risk assessment that incorporates design information and provide an engineering analysis of the light rail equipment and its likely performance in derailment and collision scenarios. The petitioner should also demonstrate that risk mitigation measures to avoid the possibility of collisions, or to limit the speed at which a collision might occur , will be employed in connection with the use of the equipment on a specified shared-use rail line. This part also contains requirements concerning power brakes on passenger trains, and a petitioner seeking a waiver in this area should refer to these requirements, not those found in 49 CFR part 232.
3. Operating practices.
A. Railroad workplace safety (part 214). (1) This part contains standards for protecting bridge workers and roadway workers. The petition should explain whether the light rail operator or conventional railroad is responsible for bridge work on shared general system trackage. If the light rail operator does the work and does similar work on segments outside of the general system, it may wish to seek a waiver permitting it to observe OSHA standards throughout its system.
(2) There are no comparable OSHA standards protecting roadway workers. The petition should explain which operator is responsible for track and signal work on the shared segments. If the light rail operator does this work, the petition should explain how the light rail operator protects these workers. However, to the extent that protection varies significantly from FRA's rules, a waiver permitting use of the light rail system's standards could be very confusing to train crews of the conventional railroad who follow FRA's rules elsewhere. A waiver of this rule is unlikely. A petition should address how such confusion would be avoided and safety of roadway workers would be ensured.
B. Railroad operating rules (part 217). This part requires filing of a railroad's operating rules and that employees be instructed and tested on compliance with them. A light rail operation would not likely have difficulty complying with this part. However, if a waiver is desired, the light rail system should explain how other safeguards it has in place provide the same assurance that operating employees are trained and periodically tested on the rules that govern train operation. A light rail system that has a system safety program plan developed under FTA's rules may be in a good position to give such an assurance.
C. Railroad operating practices (part 218). This part requires railroads to follow certain practices in various aspects of their operations (protection of employees working on equipment, protection of trains and locomotives from collisions in certain situations, prohibition against tampering with safety devices, protection of occupied camp cars). Some of these provisions (e.g., camp cars) may be irrelevant to light rail operations. Others may not fit well in the context of light rail operations. To the extent the light rail operation presents the risks addressed by the various provisions of this part, a waiver provision should explain precisely how the light rail system's practices will address those risks. FRA is not likely to waive the prohibition against tampering with safety devices, which would seem to present no particular burden to light rail operations. Moreover, blue signal regulations, which protect employees working on or near equipment, are not likely to be waived to the extent that such work is performed on track shared by a light rail operation and a conventional railroad, where safety may best be served by uniformity.
D. Control of alcohol and drug use (part 219). FRA will not permit operations to occur on the general system in the absence of effective rules governing alcohol and drug use by operating employees. FTA's own rules may provide a suitable alternative for a light rail system that is otherwise governed by those rules. However, to the extent that light rail and conventional operations occur simultaneously on the same track, FRA is not likely to apply different rules to the two operations, particularly with respect to post-accident testing, for which FRA requirements are more extensive (e.g., section 219.11(f) addresses the removal, under certain circumstances, of body fluid and/or tissue samples taken from the remains of any railroad employee who performs service for a railroad). (FRA recognizes that in the event of a fatal train accident involving a transit vehicle, whether involving temporal separation or simultaneous use of the same track, the National Transportation Safety Board will likely investigate and obtain its own toxicology test results.)
E. Railroad communications (part 220). A light rail operation is likely to have an effective system of radio communication that may provide a suitable alternative to FRA's rules. However, the greater the need for radio communication between light rail personnel (e.g., train crews or dispatchers) and personnel of the conventional railroad (e.g., train crews, roadway workers), the greater will be the need for standardized communication rules and, accordingly, the less likely will be a waiver.
F. Railroad accident/incident reporting (part 225). (1) FRA's accident/incident information is very important in the agency's decisionmaking on regulatory issues and strategic planning. A waiver petition should indicate precisely what types of accidents and incidents it would report, and to whom, under any alternative it proposes. FRA is not likely to waive its reporting requirements concerning train accidents or highway-rail grade crossing collisions that occur on the general railroad system. Reporting of accidents under FTA's rules is quite different and would not provide an effective substitute. However, with regard to employee injuries, the light rail operation may, absent FRA's rules, otherwise be subject to reporting requirements of FTA and OSHA and may have an interest in uniform reporting of those injuries wherever they occur on the system. Therefore, it is more likely that FRA would grant a waiver with regard to reporting of employee injuries.
(2) Any waiver FRA may grant in the accident/incident reporting area would have no effect on FRA's authority to investigate such incidents or on the duties of light rail operators and any other affected railroads to cooperate with those investigations. See sections 225.31 and 225.35 and 49 U.S.C. 20107 and 20902. Light rail operators should anticipate that FRA will investigate any serious accident or injury that occurs on the shared use portion of their lines, even if it occurs during hours when only the light rail trains are operating. Moreover, there may be instances when FRA will work jointly with FTA and the state agency to investigate the cause of a transit accident that occurs off the general system under circumstances that raise concerns about the safety of operations on the shared use portions. For example, if a transit operator using the same light rail equipment on the shared and non-shared-use portions of its operation has a serious accident on the non-shared-use portion, FRA may want to determine whether the cause of the accident pointed to a systemic problem with the equipment that might impact the transit system's operations on the general system. Similarly, where human error might be a factor, FRA may want to determine whether the employee potentially at fault also has safety responsibilities on the general system and, if so, take appropriate action to ensure that corrective action is taken. FRA believes its statutory investigatory authority extends as far as necessary to address any condition that might reasonably be expected to create a hazard to railroad operations within its jurisdiction.
G. Hours of service laws (49 U.S.C. 21101-21108). (1) The hours of service laws apply to all railroads subject to FRA's jurisdiction, and govern the maximum work hours and minimum off-duty periods of employees engaged in one or more of the three categories of covered service described in 49 U.S.C. 21101. If an individual performs more than one kind of covered service during a tour of duty, then the most restrictive of the applicable limitations control. Under current law, a light rail operation could request a waiver of the substantive provisions of the hours of service laws only under the “pilot project” provision described in 49 U.S.C. 21108, provided that the request is based upon a joint petition submitted by the railroad and its affected labor organizations. Because waivers requested under this statutory provision do not involve a waiver of a safety rule, regulation, or standard (see 49 CFR 211.41), FRA is not required to follow the rules of practice for waivers contained in part 211. However, whenever appropriate, FRA will combine its consideration of any request for a waiver under § 21108 with its review under part 211 of a light rail operation's petition for waivers of FRA's regulations.
(2) If such a statutory waiver is desired, the light rail system will need to assure FRA that the waiver of compliance is in the public interest and consistent with railroad safety. The waiver petition should include a discussion of what fatigue management strategies will be in place for each category of covered employees in order to minimize the effects of fatigue on their job performance. However, FRA is unlikely to grant a statutory waiver covering employees of a light rail operation who dispatch the trains of a conventional railroad or maintain a signal system affecting shared use trackage.
H. Hours of service recordkeeping (part 228). This part prescribes reporting and recordkeeping requirements with respect to the hours of service of employees who perform the job functions set forth in 49 U.S.C. 21101. As a general rule, FRA anticipates that any waivers granted under this part will only exempt the same groups of employees for whom a light rail system has obtained a waiver of the substantive provisions of the hours of service laws under 49 U.S.C. 21108. Since it is important that FRA be able to verify that a light rail operation is complying with the on- and off-duty restrictions of the hour of service laws for all employees not covered by a waiver of the laws' substantive provisions, it is unlikely that any waiver granted of the reporting and recordkeeping requirements would exclude those employees. However, in a system with fixed work schedules that do not approach 12 hours on duty in the aggregate, it may be possible to utilize existing payroll records to verify compliance.
I. Passenger train emergency preparedness (part 239). This part prescribes minimum Federal safety standards for the preparation, adoption, and implementation of emergency preparedness plans by railroads connected with the operation of passenger trains. FRA's expectation is that by requiring affected railroads to provide sufficient emergency egress capability and information to passengers, along with mandating that these railroads coordinate with local emergency response officials, the risk of death or injury from accidents and incidents will be lessened. A waiver petition should state whether the light rail system has an emergency preparedness plan in place under a state system safety program developed under FTA's rules for the light rail operator's separate street railway segments. Under a system safety program, a light rail operation is likely to have an effective plan for dealing with emergency situations that may provide an equivalent alternative to FRA's rules. To the extent that the light rail operation's plan relates to the various provisions of this part, a waiver petition should explain precisely how each of the requirements of this part is being addressed. The petition should especially focus on the issues of communication, employee training, passenger information, liaison relationships with emergency responders, and marking of emergency exits.
J. Qualification and certification of locomotive engineers (part 240). This part contains minimum Federal safety requirements for the eligibility, training, testing, certification, and monitoring of locomotive engineers. Those who operate light rail trains may have significant effects on the safety of light rail passengers, motorists at grade crossings, and, to the extent trackage is shared with conventional railroads, the employees and passengers of those railroads. The petition should describe whether a light rail system has a system safety plan developed under FTA's rules that is likely to have an effective means of assuring that the operators, or “engineers,” of its equipment receive the necessary training and have proper skills to operate a light rail vehicle in shared use on the general railroad system. The petition should explain what safeguards are in place to ensure that light rail engineers receive at least an equivalent level of training, testing, and monitoring on the rules governing train operations to that received by locomotive engineers employed by conventional railroads and certified under part 240. Any light rail system unable to meet this burden would have to fully comply with the requirements of part 240. Moreover, where a transit system intends to operate simultaneously on the same track with conventional equipment, FRA will not be inclined to waive the part 240 requirements. In that situation, FRA's paramount concern would be uniformity of training and qualifications of all those operating trains on the general system, regardless of the type of equipment.
V. Waivers That May be Appropriate for Time-Separated Light Rail Operations
1. The foregoing discussion of factors to address in a petition for approval of shared use concerns all such petitions and, accordingly, is quite general. FRA is willing to provide more specific guidance on where waivers may be likely with regard to light rail operations that are time-separated from conventional operations. FRA's greatest concern with regard to shared use of the general system is a collision between light rail and conventional trains on the same track. Because the results could well be catastrophic, FRA places great emphasis on avoiding such collisions. The surest way to guarantee that such collisions will not occur is to strictly segregate light rail and conventional operations by time of day so that the two types of equipment never share the same track at the same time. This is not to say that FRA will not entertain waiver petitions that rely on other methods of collision avoidance such as sophisticated train control systems. However, petitioners who do not intend to separate light rail from conventional operations by time of day will face a steep burden of demonstrating an acceptable level of safety. FRA does not insist that all risk of collision be eliminated. However, given the enormous severity of the likely consequences of a collision, the demonstrated risk of such an event must be extremely remote.
2. There are various ways of providing such strict separation by time. For example, freight operations could be limited to the hours of midnight to 5 a.m. when light rail operations are prohibited. Or, there might be both a nighttime and a mid-day window for freight operation. The important thing is that the arrangement not permit simultaneous operation on the same track by clearly defining specific segments of the day when only one type of operation may occur. Mere spacing of train movements by a train control system does not constitute this temporal separation.
3. FRA is very likely to grant waivers of many of its rules where complete temporal separation between light rail and conventional operations is demonstrated in the waiver request. The chart below lists each of FRA's railroad safety rules and provides FRA's view on whether it is likely to grant a waiver in a particular area where temporal separation is assured. Where the “Likely Treatment” column says “comply” a waiver is not likely, and where it says “waive” a waiver is likely. Of course, FRA will consider each petition on its own merits and one should not presume, based on the chart, that FRA will grant or deny any particular request in a petition. This chart is offered as general guidance as part of a statement of policy, and as such does not alter any safety rules or obligate FRA to follow it in every case. This chart assumes that the operations of the local rail transit agency on the general railroad system are completely separated in time from conventional railroad operations, and that the light rail operation poses no atypical safety hazards. FRA's procedural rules on matters such as enforcement (49 CFR parts 209 and 216), and its statutory authority to investigate accidents and injuries and take emergency action to address an imminent hazard of death or injury, would apply to these operations in all cases.
4. Where waivers are granted, a light rail operator would be expected to operate under a system safety plan developed in accordance with the FTA state safety oversight program. The state safety oversight agency would be responsible for the safety oversight of the light rail operation, even on the general system, with regard to aspects of that operation for which a waiver is granted. (The “Comments” column of the chart shows “State Safety Oversight” where waivers conditioned on such state oversight are likely.) FRA will coordinate with FTA and the state agency to address any serious safety problems. If the conditions under which the waiver was granted change substantially, or unanticipated safety issues arise, FRA may modify or withdraw a waiver in order to ensure safety. On certain subjects where waivers are not likely, the “Comments” column of the chart makes special note of some important regulatory requirements that the light rail system will have to observe even if it is not primarily responsible for compliance with that particular rule.
Possible Waivers for Light Rail Operations on the General Railroad System Based on Separation in Time From Conventional Operations
|Title 49 CFR part||Subject of rule||Likely treatment||Comments|
|Track, Structures, and Signals|
|213||Track safety standards||Comply (assuming light rail operator owns track or has been assigned responsibility for it)||If the conventional RR owns the track, light rail will have to observe speed limits for class of track.|
|233, 235, 236||Signal and train control||Comply (assuming light rail operator or its contractor has responsibility for signal maintenance)||If conventional RR maintains signals, light rail will have to abide by operational limitations and report signal failures.|
|234||Grade crossing signals||Comply (assuming light rail operator or its contractor has responsibility for crossing devices)||If conventional RR maintains devices, light rail will have to comply with sections concerning crossing accidents, activation failures, and false activations.|
|213, Appendix C||Bridge safety policy||Not a rule. Compliance voluntary.|
|Motive Power and Equipment|
|210||Noise emission||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|215||Freight car safety standards||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|221||Rear end marking devices||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|223||Safety glazing standards||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|229||Locomotive safety standards||Waive, except for arrangement of auxiliary lights, which is important for grade crossing safety||State safety oversight.|
|231*||Safety appliance standards||Waive||State safety oversight; see note below on statutory requirements.|
|238||Passenger equipment standards||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|214||Bridge worker||Waive||OSHA standards.|
|214||Roadway worker safety||Comply|
|217||Operating rules||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|218||Operating practices||Waive, except for prohibition on tampering with safety devices related to signal system, and blue signal rules on shared track||State safety oversight.|
|219||Alcohol and drug||Waive if FTA rule otherwise applies||FTA rule may apply.|
|220||Radio communications||Waive, except to extent communications with freight trains and roadway workers are necessary||State safety oversight.|
|225||Accident reporting and investigation||Comply with regard to train accidents and crossing accidents; waive as to injuries; FRA accident investigation authority not subject to waiver||Employee injuries would be reported under FTA or OSHA rules.|
|228**||Hours of service recordkeeping||Waive (in concert with waiver of statute); waiver not likely for personnel who dispatch conventional RR or maintain signal system on shared use track||See note below on possible waiver of statutory requirements.|
|239||Passenger train emergency preparedness||Waive||State safety oversight.|
|240||Engineer certification||Waive||State safety oversight.|