It is currently Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:13 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2528
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Off-General-System railroads are those which have grade crossings but are not part of the General System (honestly if you did not know that, you probably should not be trying to answer this question, because fairly intimate knowledge of this stuff is a prereq. Please don't contribute seat-of-the-pants or uninformed answers.) FRA part 229 is diesel locomotive mechanical.

My understanding is that off-general-system tourist roads are exempt from FRA 229. Exempt does not mean no inspections at all, but - well, you know.

However we have a local inspector wanting to see hammer/hydro records for tanks, looking closely at dates on control valves, quite a number of oddball things that seem pretty tangential to actual operating safety.

I'm wondering if that's typical.

And if that's not typical, how do you deal with a local FRA inspector who is exceeding the intent of the "Off general system" exemption?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:05 pm
Posts: 132
On a slightly picky note - grade crossings are not part of General System determination. Presence of public grade crossings (of any type) is a matter of insularity.

_________________
G.
______________________________________
Radio crackles - "What the #^(& did we just hit, over?"


Last edited by TrainDetainer on Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:27 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:31 pm
Posts: 3
What constitutes a general system, and a non-general system tourist railroad (as well as an insular operation) is contained in 49 CFR 209, Appendix A. I'd recommend everyone who deals with this in their respective organizations read it. Further, there is a decision tree that RCPA has, that I believe Bob Opal put together when he was associated with ARM/TRAIN. That organization is now known as the HeritageRail Alliance (HRA). It can be located here:

http://www.rpca.com/pdfs/FRATouristRailroadPolicyAugust2011.pdf

It is unclear from your original post, is the inspector just looking at this stuff, or is there discussion of issuing citations against your organization, or finding violations? Because, there is a difference between the two.

You have to realize that your operation may be the only non-general system tourist railroad they inspect, or in their jurisdiction. As a result, the inspector may not have a working knowledge with what he can and cannot inspect. If your inspector is just looking at these items, then he or she may be going back to the local office, or even discussing it with people at the regional office. At that level, the inspector may know of what and what is not inspected in a non-general system tourist railroad.

If your organization is a member of the HRA, then they have a regulatory committee and counsel that is there to assist their members. It is my understanding that these misunderstands are not uncommon, and are generally resolved in favor of the tourist railroad. There is an established protocol with how to handle these issues. If your organization is not a member, I can provide you with the procedure, via a private message.

What I do not recommend is being immediately confrontational with your local inspector. There are ways to bring attention to their potentially incorrect interpretations and maintain a productive relationship.

_________________
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
-Robert Frost


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:18 am
Posts: 120
Location: B'more MD
For those interested, I commend your attention to the MP&E Compliance Manual, issued by the Motive Power and Equipment folks at the FRA Headquarters in D.C. It contains interpretations and advice for the FRA's field inspectors and some of your questions as to applicability or inspections may well be addressed and clarified in that document.

https://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/3355

For what it's worth, there is also an Operating Practices Compliance Manual as well.

The great majority of my work is and was on the mechanical side, so I refer to the MP&E manual from time to time. For instance, Page 2-17 begins the discussion the jurisdiction of the FRA over tourist and excursion railroads, as well as guidance in determining whether an operation is insular or non-insular. Whether or not you are part of the general system doesn't necessarily grant you immunity from FRA enforcement. The guidance portion goes on to say that an operation will not be considered insular if one or more of the following exists on the line:

1. A public highway-rail crossing that is in use.
2. An at-grade rail crossing that is in use.
3. A bridge over a public road or waters used for commercial navigation, or
4. A common corridor with a railroad, i.e., it's operations are within 30 feet of those
of any railroad.

In the message at the top of the string, implies that an Off-General System railroad is apparently is involved and that Off-General System railroads are exempt from FRA regulation including Section 229. The table in the Compliance Manual, copied above, seems to preclude that option.

If you find an inspector attempting enforcement, you can always check the compliance manual for clarification. For instance, drilled main reservoirs were mentioned at the top of the string. The manual dedicates a whole page to Section 229.31 (Main Reservoir Tests). Brake valve The section on Annual Tests of Locomotives also discusses the cleaning, testing and repairing of brake components and the records required pertaining to that activity. Servicing date stickers or stencils on valves, normally applied by the air brake shops, are a good indication of when and where the valves were serviced. My read of the Regulations and the Compliance Manual is that asking when and where a valve was last serviced or an air gauge was last calibrated, or when a single car test was last performed is fair game for an inspector. Just because you are not subject to Section 238 does not mean you are not subject to Section 232.

All in all, the MP&E Compliance Manual is a very interesting and valuable aid to dealing with the FRA and a great their supplement to help interpret their regulations. I always tell my qualification classes about the Compliance Manual and where to find it on-line. I have had one or two times when the inspectors asked me where they could find it, after I referenced it, as they claimed not to have heard of it. Also, as many inspectors come from the freight railroads, I have had experience with them attempting to write up AAR rules as FRA violations.

Sometimes, as some one suggests, diplomacy is required, but also if all else fails, politely begin to climb the chain of command. Another ploy I used more than once, when working for both Amtrak and a commuter railroad, was asking the inspector where exactly you can find the regulation, so you can study it and get it right as you take care of the problem. In the end, I suspect that any inspector can find something to get you on. I once was cited for a loose soap dispenser in an RDC lavatory, because an RDC is a locomotive and everything on a locomotive needed to be firmly attached.

Anyway, my thoughts and I hope some may find it useful.

G.F.Payne
B'more, MD

_________________
George F.Payne
Baltimore, MD


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:56 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:56 am
Posts: 382
Location: Northern California
Robert, at WRM we went through the same thing on 229. 229 was actually enacted by congress and at the time i was told that we had to comply with the statute, but not the regulation. I went out and found the appropriate volume of the US Code and read the statute that congress had passed and the president had signed. Of the two pages of text only two lines had anything to do with locomotives. One said locomotives had to be inspected to ensure they were safe to operate. The second line said the results of the inspection had to be recorded.

I sat down and wrote out a inspection criteria I thought was appropriate for our equipment and and operation including the maintenance and inspection intervals. Next time the MP and E inspector showed up, we sat down and reviewed my inspection criteria. He suggested a few changes which I agreed to. I think you are familiar with the inspection check list that is used durning maintenance week at WRM. That is the document that was developed to bring WRM into complainants with 229.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:39 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 144
As someone who has worked in the railroad industry, does training and consulting for the industry (including non-general system private railroads, tourist railroads, and transit systems), and has been involved with a number of legal cases, I have a suggestion:

Don't look for ways to avoid the regulations, go ahead and comply with them even if they are not required. For areas that are difficult, look at professional organizations that have their own standards. Also look at the enforcement manuals to see what is really required and how it applies. Consulting with the FRA can sometimes be helpful, but as pointed out, not all inspectors can see past the regs.

Here is why. First, the regulations are generally good practice. They are generally designed to reduce or prevent accidents, failures and injuries/death. Therefore, they are great guidelines to follow.

Second, they are industry practice. If you are going to act like a railroad, be like a railroad. I have found that explaining these regulations to those working the trains, and the visitors, often makes then appreciate railroads more and what they go through to be safe. We often talk about the equipment and employees, why not also cover the regulations that are there.

Third, compliance often can help with your insurance. Seeing the standards being complied with can reduce their exposure.

Finally, if an accident does happen and an employee, volunteer, passenger, or anyone else is hurt, killed, scared, or whatever, what are you going to say when in court you are asked: "and why don't you comply with the federal regulations which are the standard for the railroad industry?"

Saying "because we don't have to" will only result in the lawyer asking "then what minimum safety standards do you use, and what railroad industry expert created them for you?"

Remember, any operator has a responsibility to provide a safe environment based upon rules and standards. It is far better to use some sort of industry standard than create your own, or just ignore them - both of which place more liability on you and your organization.

Bart


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:40 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:31 pm
Posts: 3
If something has happened and you find yourself or your organization mired in a lawsuit, I'm sure the lawyer representing the other party will try to find any way to make your operation look unsafe, even if all regulations were followed. In other words, I do not think that is a good risk mitigation strategy. Any risk mitigation strategy should be focused on preventing such events from happening, not necessarily anticipating creative arguments from a personal injury attorney should something happen.

Bart,

I'm curious, do you recommend all of your consultation clients, even if "insular" adopt and comply with all FRA regulations? I'm sure such an approach does wonders for your consulting business, but I'm not sure it's necessary. Then again, I could be misreading you as well. Using the additional standards as a baseline doesn't mean that the FRA can issue a citation against you for non compliance if you fall into the non-general system areas.

Voluntarily assuming a duty, like complying with regulations you don't have to, may place you in greater jeopardy liability-wise, should something occur. Especially if the FRA isn't checking for compliance in that area, you may have a difficult time establishing you complied with the standards you voluntarily assumed.

The decision tree and regulatory approach of the non-general system tourist railroad industry was adopted by experts, who understood that a small tourist railroad isn't CSX, and the safety requirements are very different. Helping your local FRA person understand the difference is only beneficial to you.

Even some FRA regulations adopted for the general system brethren show the problem of a one size fits all approach. Recently, the FRA adopted changes to Part 243 training requirements for general system railroads. The problem is, what works for CSX, and Rail America may not work for a 3-5 mile general system shortline with a handful of employees. Smaller general system railroads usually have employees that cross traditional craft lines, and making an educational program that fits their positions may be difficult, or prohibitively expensive.

_________________
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
-Robert Frost


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 398
Location: Orrville, OH
As I understand it, the FRA does reserve jurisdiction over insular operations if there are imminent hazards to safety. It behooves you to be compliant to a known "standard" for general safety reasons. Ignore them at your peril.

_________________
Eric Schlentner
ORHS Car Knocker & Gandy Dancer
http://www.orrvillerailroad.com


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1350
Location: Youngstown, OH
Catalpa wrote:
4. A common corridor with a railroad, i.e., it's operations are within 30 feet of those
of any railroad.


How is this 30 feet measured? Center to center of tracks? Outside to outside of adjacent equipment? What is the criteria?

_________________
Rick Rowlands
J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:38 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 144
As I joke, the FRA can come in and regulate your model railroad if they want to. While not quite true, the areas that the FRA do not directly regulate are generally by choice, and as we have seen, any problem can lead the FRA to set forward and assume that responsibility directly.

Reading many of the FRA regulations, operations that are not part of the general railroad system of transportation often do not have to comply with most of the FRA standards. However, an accident or death, a safety complaint, or a request by an elected official can and generally does lead the FRA to inspect. When they do, they generally do a pass-fail inspection, but as noted, what standards do they have to base their decision on besides their regulations?

Actually my push to comply with the FRA standards even when not required has helped several groups limit or end legal issues against them. This has especially been true in industrial railroads where I have been called in by several after incidents have occurred, and many before. I have seen some very smart attorneys (I have taught quite a few the FRA regulations) just ask the question about what standards are used, and the checkbooks open. I have also had some rail operations that followed my advice be able to defend themselves because of it.

A side note from another industry, I work with a motor carrier who went far beyond all industry standards and created a required training program with more than 1000 learning lessons, many photographed or digitally saved, for every employee. Since they started the practice, they haven't lost a single lawsuit claiming lack of training or improper operating practices. They used chemical carrier standards for dry van moves, far beyond the requirements, but it saved them plenty in the long run.

I recommend the same for industrial, shortline, and tourist/heritage railroads. I also encourage the operations to document the same way that any railroad does. That is what is required by the FRA, so using standard documentation shows at least paper compliance. By the way, the paper compliance issue is where the FRA can also use criminal (read potential criminal fines and jail time) charges, so don't fake them.

As I stated, using standards created by a professional organization can also be used, and often are. Look at how many AAR standards and AREMA recommendations there are that are used, even by private operators. Others such as chemical organizations, construction codes, etc., are also used commonly, even when they don't apply. Any time an organization can use a standard from the FRA (or any government agency) or a professional association, that takes the liability off of creating your own.

Bart


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:41 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 144
The 30-foot used for excepted track is center of track to center of track (track centers), a standard way that the FRA seems to use the term.

Bart


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:16 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1350
Location: Youngstown, OH
Thanks Bartman!

_________________
Rick Rowlands
J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Off-General-System Railroads and FRA Part 229
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 144
I forgot to comment on:

"Even some FRA regulations adopted for the general system brethren show the problem of a one size fits all approach. Recently, the FRA adopted changes to Part 243 training requirements for general system railroads. The problem is, what works for CSX, and Rail America may not work for a 3-5 mile general system shortline with a handful of employees. Smaller general system railroads usually have employees that cross traditional craft lines, and making an educational program that fits their positions may be difficult, or prohibitively expensive."

When the 243 came out, few realized what it would take to comply, and the folks I work with were one of the first to meet its requirements. We showed the complexity, and some changes are coming about (hopefully) that will make life easier for everyone. Back when I was running railroads, we had for a time a total of 3 employees and everyone did everything. I could be talking to a shipper in the morning, inspecting some track and installing ties in the afternoon, and cleaning the office before going home. It was hard to make sure we had a qualified person for every required task, and often had to do the self training and self designation qualification that is sometimes provided for by the FRA.

Trust me, I'm a big believer in customizing practices and rules for each operation. Just in the last two years, I've worked with several transit agencies, several tourist railroads, a regional railroad, quite a few short lines, and lots of industrial operations. Each has their own needs, from dealing with weather (desert conditions to swamp to upper Midwest), to different traffic levels, changes in soil conditions, etc.

I've testified on some of the regulations and have encouraged flexibility in a number of them, while other times clear standards. I am a believer in performance standards that can be demonstrated, such as the new rail inspection standards that have different failure rates that must be complied with, not specific counts on what to do.

A big issue I have with the decision tree on what FRA regulations apply is that some have the feeling that if the regulations don't apply, there is not a need for any compliance or documentation in the area. For example, even if the FRA doesn't directly deal with track inspection on many tourist and museum railroads, someone had better have a plan to inspect and maintain the track. I have had some say they have no plans, no standards, and do no regular inspections because they are not required. This is especially common with industrial railroads who only worry about things when a derailment occurs. I worked with one big steel mill that basically operated that way because of the FRA regulations, but derailments were costing them millions each year. After quite a bit of training and fighting a manager who kept saying that the standards were not required and that it would cost too much, the first year the effort paid for itself in fewer derailments and injuries. They still enforce all of the standards.

This is one reason why insurance is demanding more details about maintenance plans, wanting inspection reports, etc. They have seen this also and are working to protect themselves by trying to force some minimum standard.

The key is to have a plan and standards that are recognized. The better the experts who created them, the easier they are to defend in court should something happen (notice I'm not saying FRA, because unless the problem is major, they won't have much ability to issue fines) that takes you there.

Bart


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot] and 56 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: