Thursday, November 30, 2017

FRA issues fifth extension of passenger rail SSP deadline

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Passenger rail service providers now have until Dec. 4, 2018 to develop and implement a system safety program (SSP) according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

FRA issued a notice of the stay of rule 49 CFR part 270, its fifth, in the Nov. 30 edition of the Federal Register citing multiple requests from state and labor partners.

"Given the multiple requests for a continued stay of the rule, the comment received supporting a stay, the lack of opposition to a stay in either the comments or at the public [Railroad Safety Advisory Committee] meeting and FRA's interest in addressing the issues raised in the state petitions prior to requiring full compliance with the SSP final rule, FRA is issuing this final rule extending the stay until Dec. 4, 2018," the notice states.

According to the FRA, SSPs "improve railroad safety through structured, proactive processes and procedures developed and implemented by railroad operators."

FRA views an SSP as a way for railroads and employees to work together to identify and mitigate potential risks. The rule provides each railroad with a certain amount of flexibility to tailor its SSP to its specific operations.

The final rule was originally issued in August 2016 before FRA issued a stay and extended the deadline to March 21, 2017, followed by stays to May 22, June 5 and Dec. 4, 2017, before the latest stay until Dec. 4, 2018.

Petitions for reconsideration must be received on or before January 19, 2018. Comments in response to petitions for reconsideration must be received on or before March 5, 2018.