FRA Proposes Regulatory Changes To Address Safety of Concrete Crossties

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Aug. 26 published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with regard to the agency's plans to amend the Federal Track Safety Standards to address the safety of concrete crossties.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-432, Division A), enacted in the wake of an Amtrak derailment in Washington State in 2005, mandated the promulgation of regulations for concrete crossties. Section 403(d) of the RSIA specified that the Secretary of Transportation, in developing regulations for track Classes 1-5, could address the following:

  • limits for rail seat abrasion;
  • concrete crosstie pad wear limits;
  • missing or broken rail fasteners;
  • loss of appropriate toeload pressure;
  • improper fastener configurations; and
  • excessive lateral rail movement.

The FRA's planned regulations would cover these issues and would in addtiion require automated inspection of track constructed with concrete crossties.

Written comments on the NPRM must be received by October 12, 2010. No public hearing is planned at present, but if the FRA receives a specific request for a public, oral hearing before Sept. 27, 2010, one will be scheduled and FRA will publish a supplemental notice in the Federal Register to inform interested parties of the date, time, and location of any such hearing.

For further details of the background for the regulation and the process involved in developing the proposed amendments, as well as the text of the proposed new regulations themselves, consult the agency's NPRM. The document also provides specifics on submitting comments for consideration.