FRA EMERG ORDER TO PREVENT HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRAIN MOVEMENT

FRA 22-13
Friday, August 2, 2013
Contact:  Kevin F. Thompson
Tel.:  202-493-6024 
Federal Railroad Administration Issues Emergency Order to Prevent Unintended 
Hazardous Materials Train Movement 
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad 
Administration (FRA) today issued an Emergency Order and Safety Advisory to 
help prevent trains operating on mainline tracks or sidings from moving 
unintentionally. The FRA’s announcement was made in response to the July 6, 
2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, as it awaits additional data 
once the investigation into the crash is complete.  The actions announced today 
build on the success of FRA’s rigorous safety program, which has helped reduce 
train accidents by 43 percent over the last decade, and made 2012 the safest 
year in American rail history. 
The Emergency Order is a mandatory directive to the rail industry, and failure 
to comply will result in enforcement actions against violating railroads. 
“Safety is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  
“While we wait for the full investigation to conclude, the Department is taking 
steps today to help prevent a similar incident from occurring in the United 
States.” 
Today’s Emergency Order outlines measures that all railroads must undertake 
within the next 30 days: 
No train or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials can be left 
unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard or terminal, unless 
specifically authorized.     
In order to receive authorization to leave a train unattended, railroads must 
develop and submit to FRA a process for securing unattended trains transporting 
hazardous materials, including locking the locomotive or otherwise disabling 
it, and reporting among employees to ensure the correct number of hand brakes 
are applied.              
Employees who are responsible for securing trains and vehicles transporting 
such specified hazardous material must communicate with the train dispatchers 
the number of hand brakes applied, the tonnage and length of the train or 
vehicle, the grade and terrain features of the track, any relevant weather 
conditions, and the type of equipment being secured.      
Train dispatchers must record the information provided. The dispatcher or other 
qualified railroad employee must verify that the securement meets the 
railroad’s requirements, and they must verify that the securement meets the 
railroad’s requirements.    
Railroads must implement rules ensuring that any employee involved in securing 
a train participate in daily job briefings prior to the work being performed.
Railroads must develop procedures to ensure a qualified railroad employee 
inspects all equipment that an emergency responder has been on, under or 
between before the train can be left unattended.       
Railroads must provide this EO to all affected employees. 
“Today’s action builds upon a comprehensive regulatory framework we have had in 
place for some time,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “The safe 
shipment of all cargo is paramount and protecting the safety of the American 
public is fundamental to our enforcement strategy and we are encouraged by the 
industry’s willingness to cooperate with this approach going forward.”    
In addition to the Emergency Order, the FRA, together with the Pipelines and 
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), issued a Safety Advisory 
detailing a list of recommendations railroads are expected to follow.  U. S. 
DOT believes that railroad safety is enhanced through the use of multiple crew 
members, and the Safety Advisory recommends railroads review their crew 
staffing requirements for transporting hazardous material and ensure that they 
are adequate. Other recommendations in the Safety Advisory include:  conducting 
system-wide evaluations to identify particular hazards that may make it more 
difficult to secure a train or pose other safety risks and to develop 
procedures to mitigate those risks.  A copy of the Safety Advisory can be 
viewed HERE.  
“When PHMSA talks about the transportation of hazardous materials, safety is a 
prerequisite to movement,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “We are 
taking this action today and we will be looking hard at the current rail 
operating practices for hazardous materials to ensure the public's safety.” 
As FRA continues to evaluate safety procedures following the recent crash, it 
will convene an emergency meeting of its Railroad Safety Advisory Committee to 
consider what additional safety measures may be required.  FRA plans to develop 
a website that will allow the public to track industry compliance with the 
Emergency Order and Safety Advisory issued today. FRA has developed a plan that 
outlines six major actions that have occurred or will occur to further ensure 
that our regulatory response to the Canadian rail accident remains transparent.  
Under current DOT regulations, all freight railroads are required to develop 
and implement risk assessments and security plans in order to transport any 
hazardous material, including a plan to prevent unauthorized access in rail 
yards, facilities and trains carrying hazardous materials. Railroads that carry 
hazardous materials are required to develop and follow a security protocol 
while en route; railroad employees are subject to background checks and must 
complete training.  Training programs and protocols are reviewed and audited by 
the FRA routinely and generally designed to be progressive so as the level of 
risk increases so does the level of security required. A description of past, 
present, and proposed FRA actions on this issue can be found here. 
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