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News Digest DOT 31-13

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Proposes New Passenger Train Door Rules.  The Federal Railroad Administration today announced a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to improve the integrity of passenger train exterior side door safety systems. The proposed rule would create new safety standards that would help decrease accidents and improve the safe operation and use of passenger train exterior side doors. Some of the proposed requirements include: equipping new passenger cars that have powered side doors with an obstruction detection system and a bypass feature that allows a train engineer to manually override the door safety system;  connecting new passenger cars that have either manual or powered exterior side doors to a door summary circuit that informs the controlling cab of the status of the doors to prohibit the train from developing tractive power if any of the exterior side doors are open; and safety briefings for train crews to identify crewmember responsibilities as they relate to the safe operation of the exterior side doors.  The proposed rule is based on recommendations developed by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s General Passenger Safety Task Force, and includes new requirements for both powered and manual exterior side doors and door safety systems on passenger trains. In addition, the rule proposes to incorporate American Public Transportation Association standards. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposed rule by May 27, 2014. Contact: Kevin Thompson (202) 493-6024.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Issues New Critical Incident Stress Plan Rule.  The Federal Railroad Administration oday announced a new Final Rule (FR) requiring each Class I, intercity passenger, and commuter railroad to establish and implement a critical incident stress plan for employees who are directly involved in, witness, or respond to, a critical incident. This rulemaking responds to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandate that the Secretary of Transportation establish regulations to define “critical incident” and to require certain railroads to develop and implement critical incident stress plans.  Under the provisions of the rule, railroads would be required to develop, and submit to the Secretary for approval, critical incident stress plans that provide for appropriate support services to be offered to their employees who are affected by a “critical incident.” The rule defines a “critical incident” as either — (1) An accident/incident reportable to FRA under 49 CFR part 225 that results in a fatality, loss of limb, or a similarly serious bodily injury; or (2) A catastrophic accident/incident reportable to FRA under part 225 that could be reasonably expected to impair a directly-involved employee's ability to perform his or her job duties safely. The final rule can be viewed here. Contact: Kevin Thompson (202) 493-6024.

FHWA Seeks Comments on a Proposed Rule That Could Help Improve Safety Decision-making.  The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on March 28th in the Federal Register that modifies data, analysis and reporting requirements of the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) as outlined under MAP-21. The rule is expected to help states conduct better safety analyses and improve safety investment decision-making through the HSIP.  Comments from the public are due by May 27, 2014.  Contact:  Neil Gaffney – 202-366-0660

MARAD Study Shows Renewable Diesel Fuel Reduces Emissions without Impacting Engine Performance. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has recently completed tests of renewable biofuel technology onboard the training ship State of Michigan.  The project was part of a MARAD initiative to conduct “at sea” tests of advanced renewable fuels and assess its impact on the ship’s engine. The tests compared operational, vibration, and air emission differences between regular ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel and a 76/33 blend of ULSD and Amyris Renewable Diesel (ARD) fuel, which is derived from sugar. The study determined that ARD reduced air emissions without any significant difference in engine performance.  The study can be found here.     Contact:  Kim Strong 202-366-5067

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DOT 31-13

Friday, March 28, 2014