FRA Withdraws Hazmat Train Staffing Rule

Posted on 6/17/2019 by Roger Marks

The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) announced on May 29, 2019 the withdrawal of a proposed rule to set minimum train staffing requirements for certain rail operations, including trains hauling large quantities of hazardous materials. 
The proposed rule would have set a minimum of two train crewmembers for all freight and passenger operations, and specified roles and responsibilities for the second crewmember during movement. The proposal included exceptions for low risk operations. 
The rule was proposed in 2016 amidst skyrocketing crude oil production and following a rash of crude oil incidents, including the 2013 derailment and spill in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed forty-seven people and resulted in extensive property damage. 
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Other Crude Oil Hazmat Rulemakings

Read the original NRPM here.
The train staffing rule was one of many measures taken by FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to control the risk posed by high-hazard flammable trains, or HHFTs. HHFTS are trains hauling large volumes of hazardous materials, either in consecutive rail cars or across the whole train.
US DOT and Transport Canada collaborated on a rulemaking in 2015 to improve the safety of Class 3 flammable liquids shipped by rail. In addition, new requirements for railroad comprehensive oil spill response plans (COSRPs) and emergency preparedness, for example, took effect on April 1 this year.
In September 2018, PHMSA removed a requirement for high hazard flammable trains (HHFTs) to be equipped with electronically controlled pneumatic brake systems (ECP brake systems).
When they proposed the train staffing rule, FRA stated that “this rule would break even with its estimated costs if it prevents one fatal injury or high-consequence accident in the first 10 years of the rule.” FRA listed potential benefits that included improved post-accident /incident emergency response and management, safety and compliance enhancements, and potential avoidance of high-consequence accidents.

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Tags: Federal Rail Administration, FRA, hazmat, PHMSA, Rail, train

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