FRA Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Revising PTC Systems and Reporting Regulations
- On December 28, 2020
On December 18, 2020 the FRA published proposed rules under 49 CFR Part 236 (Docket FRA-2019-0075) which seek to modify the process by which a host railroad must submit a request for amendment (“RFA”) to FRA before making certain changes to its PTC Safety Plan (“PTCSP”) and FRA-certified PTC system, and proposes to expand the existing reporting requirement by increasing the frequency from annual to biannual; broaden the reporting requirement to encompass positive performance-related information, not just failure-related information; and require host railroads to utilize a new, standardized Biannual Report of PTC System Performance.
The 60-day comment period closes February 16, 2021, and comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov.
The full text of the proposed rule is available at: https://railroads.dot.gov/regulations-fr/rulemaking/2020-27097
Summary of Proposed Rules:
49 CFR 236.1003 – Definitions
- Three definitions which mirror those in 49 U.S.C. 20157 (j) are added to paragraph (b):
- Cut out
- Initialization Failure
49 CFR 236.1021 – Discontinuations, Material Modifications, and Amendments
- FRA proposes to modify the process for making Requests for Amendments (RFAs) to PTC Safety plans (PTCSPs)
- This will enable the industry to deploy upgrades and technological enhancements more efficiently, and ensure FRA’s review of changes or modifications to FRA-certified systems is more predictable and consistent going forward
- This will apply only to PTC systems already certified under 49 U.S.C. 20157(h)
- The proposed new RFA process is designed to be streamlined, requiring railroads to provide certain documentation, analysis, and safety assurances, and establishing a 45-day deadline for the FRA to issue an approval or denial
- The required content of the RFA is outlined in paragraphs (m)(2)(i) through (v)
- Notably, paragraph (m)(2)(i) requires the RFA to include a summary of the proposed changes to any safety critical elements of a PTC system, including a summary of how the changes to the PTC system would affect its safety-critical functionality, how any new hazards have been addressed and mitigated, whether each change is a planned change that was previously included in all required analysis under § 236.1015, or an unplanned change, and the reason for the proposed changes, including whether the changes are necessary to address or resolve an emergency or urgent issue.
- This new process does not revise the types of changes that require an RFA
- FRA also proposes allowing host railroads utilizing the same type of PTC system to submit joint RFAs to their PTCSPs and PTC Development Plans.
49 CFR 236.1029(h) – Annual Report of System Failures
- FRA proposes to expand the existing reporting requirement form annual to biannual
- Proposes broadening the reporting requirement to include positive performance-related information
- Specifically, proposed paragraph (h)(1)(iv) would require a host railroad to identify the number of intended enforcements by the PTC system and any other instances in which the PTC system prevented an accident or incident on the host railroad’s PTC-governed main lines, during the applicable reporting period
- Proposes requiring host railroads use and electronically file a standardized Biannual Report of PTC System Performance (Form FRA F 6180.152)
- Tenant railroads need only provide data to their host railroads for submittal by July 15 for the January 1 – June 30 reporting period, and by January 15 for the July 1 – December 31 reporting period
For further information please contact Michael Shumate at firstname.lastname@example.org.