217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

BNSF Petitions FRA to Continue Operating Extended Haul Trains Beyond Regulated Limit

BNSF Railway on April 19, 2023, and May 4, 2023, petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for an extension of a waiver compliance from certain provisions of the Federal railroad safety regulations contained at 40 CFR part 232 (Brake System Safety Standards for Freight and Other Non-Passenger Trains and Equipment; End-of-Train Devices), according to a notice in the Federal Register’s June 16 edition.

Specifically, BNSF requests a waiver extension from 49 CFR 232.12, Extended haul trains, to continue operating extended haul trains for distances of up to 1,702 miles, beyond the limit of 1,500 miles stated in the regulation.

In support of its request, BNSF states that it maintains a 24-hour hotline to “support FRA in identification of active trains operating under this waiver and answer any operational questions.” BNSF further states that “operations under this waiver have reduced risk exposure for personal injuries involving walking and driving vehicles during inspections on every train under this waiver.” BNSF explains the relief has also “improved upon crew rest and eliminated 1,000s of hours of idle time[,] resulting in noise reduction and reduced pollutant[s].”

A copy of the petition, as well as any written communications concerning the petition, is available for review here.

Interested parties are invited to participate in these proceedings by submitting written views, data, or comments. FRA says it does not anticipate scheduling a public hearing in connection with these proceedings since the facts do not appear to warrant a hearing. If any interested party desires an opportunity for oral comment and a public hearing, they should notify FRA, in writing, before the end of the comment period and specify the basis for their request.

Communications, FRA says, received by August 15, 2023, will be considered before final action is taken. Comments received after that date will be considered “if practicable.”