[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 216 (Friday, November 7, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66459-66510]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-26290]



[[Page 66459]]

Vol. 79

Friday,

No. 216

November 7, 2014

Part II





 Department of Transportation





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 Federal Railroad Administration





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49 CFR Parts 214, 232, and 243





 Training, Qualification, and Oversight for Safety-Related Railroad 
Employees; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 216 / Friday, November 7, 2014 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 66460]]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration

49 CFR Parts 214, 232, and 243

[Docket No. FRA-2009-0033, Notice No. 3]
RIN 2130-AC06


Training, Qualification, and Oversight for Safety-Related 
Railroad Employees

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: FRA is establishing minimum training standards for all safety-
related railroad employees, as required by the Rail Safety Improvement 
Act of 2008 (RSIA). The final rule requires each railroad or contractor 
that employs one or more safety-related railroad employee to develop 
and submit a training program to FRA for approval and to designate the 
minimum training qualifications for each occupational category of 
employee. The rule also requires most employers to conduct periodic 
oversight of their own employees and annual written reviews of their 
training programs to close performance gaps. The rule also contains 
specific training and qualification requirements for operators of 
roadway maintenance machines that can hoist, lower, and horizontally 
move a suspended load. Finally, the rule clarifies the existing 
training requirements for railroad and contractor employees that 
perform brake system inspections, tests, or maintenance.

DATES: This regulation is effective January 6, 2015. Petitions for 
reconsideration must be received on or before December 29, 2014. 
Petitions for reconsideration will be posted in the docket for this 
proceeding. Comments on any submitted petition for reconsideration must 
be received on or before February 10, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration or comments on such petitions: 
Any petitions and any comments to petitions related to Docket No. FRA-
2009-0033 may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     Online: Comments should be filed at the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. DOT, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: Room W12-140 on the Ground level of the 
West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this 
rulemaking. All petitions and comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov; this includes any personal 
information. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the ``SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION'' section of this document for Privacy Act information 
related to any submitted petitions or materials.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to 
Room W12-140 on the Ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert J. Castiglione, Staff 
Director--Technical Training, U.S. Department of Transportation, 
Federal Railroad Administration, 4100 International Plaza, Suite 450, 
Fort Worth, TX 76109-4820 (telephone: 817-447-2715); or Alan H. Nagler, 
Senior Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal 
Railroad Administration, Office of Chief Counsel, RCC-10, Mail Stop 10, 
West Building 3rd Floor, Room W31-309, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6038).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents for Supplementary Information

I. Executive Summary
II. RSIA Requirement
III. RSAC Overview
IV. RSAC Training Standards and Plans Working Group
V. Discussion of Specific Comments and Conclusions
    A. Implementation Dates and Incentives for Early Filing of 
Programs
    B. Hazmat Employees Not Covered
    C. Preemptive Effect and Construction
    D. Request for Preemption Provision for Entities That Develop 
Model Programs
    E. Training Required of Manufacturer's Employees and Other 
Contractors Who Inspect, Repair, and Maintain Equipment off Railroad 
Property
    F. Application and Responsibility of Compliance for Tourist, 
Scenic, Historic, and Excursion Railroads
    G. Application to Private Motorcar Operators
    H. Application to Bridge Inspectors and Small Engineering Firms
    I. Qualified Instructor
    J. Training for Designated Instructors and Supervisors 
Performing Oversight
    K. Refresher Training
    L. Waivers
    M. Employees Charged With Inspection of Track or Railroad 
Equipment
    N. Employees Charged With Inspection of Railroad Bridges
    O. Joint Ventures
    P. Requests for Confidential Treatment of Programs
    Q. Computer and Simulator-Based Instruction
    R. FRA's Qualifications to Review Training Programs
    S. Compliance Guide
VI. Section-by-Section Analysis
VII. Regulatory Impact and Notices
    A. Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 13272; Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Assessment
    C. Paperwork Reduction Act
    D. Federalism Implications
    E. International Trade Impact Assessment
    F. Environmental Impact
    G. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
    H. Energy Impact
    I. Privacy Act

I. Executive Summary

Purpose of the Regulatory Action and Legal Authority

    FRA is issuing regulations establishing minimum training standards 
for each category and subcategory of safety-related railroad employee 
and the submission of training plans from railroad carriers, 
contractors, and subcontractors for the Secretary of Transportation 
(Secretary) approval, as required by section 401(a) of the RSIA, Public 
Law 110-432, 122 Stat. 4883, (Oct. 16, 2008), codified at 49 U.S.C. 
20162. The Secretary delegated this authority to the Federal Railroad 
Administrator. 49 CFR 1.89(b). The statutory provisions are summarized 
below.
    Section 20162(a)(1) mandates that the employers of each safety-
related railroad employee be required ``to qualify or otherwise 
document the proficiency of such employees in each such class and craft 
regarding their knowledge of, and ability to comply with, Federal 
railroad safety laws and regulations and railroad carrier rules and 
procedures promulgated to implement those Federal railroad safety laws 
and regulations.'' Paragraph (a)(2) of the statute mandated a 
requirement for employers to ``submit training and qualification plans 
. . . for approval.'' In paragraph (a)(3), the statute requires that 
the Secretary ensure that the employer submitted programs specifically 
address the training of safety-related railroad employees

[[Page 66461]]

charged with the inspection of track or railroad equipment so that 
these employees are qualified to assess railroad compliance with 
Federal standards, not only to identify and correct defective 
conditions, but to initiate immediate remedial action to correct 
critical safety defects that are known to contribute to derailments, 
accidents, incidents, or injuries. Furthermore, paragraphs (b) and (c) 
of the statute set out the method of the plan approval and permit the 
Secretary to exempt employers from submitting plans previously 
approved.
    The scientific literature on training, in general, and FRA's own 
experience with training in the railroad industry show a clear link 
between the quality of training programs--including whether training is 
engaging or ``hands-on''--and safety. Even though rail transportation 
in the United States is generally an extremely safe mode of 
transportation, and rail safety has been improving, well-designed 
training programs have the potential to further reduce safety risk in 
the railroad environment. FRA believes that better designed training 
can reduce the number of accidents and incidents.

Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action in Question

    FRA is requiring that each employer of one or more safety-related 
railroad employees (whether the employer is a railroad, contractor, or 
subcontractor) train and qualify each such employee on the Federal 
railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders that the employee is 
required to comply with, as well as any relevant railroad rules and 
procedures promulgated to implement those Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders. The final rule also requires that the training 
program developed by each employer be submitted to FRA for approval. 
FRA is proposing a holistic approach including minimum training and 
qualification standards, maximum refresher training intervals, review 
and oversight of the training programs, and performance standards. The 
approach consists of three main components:
    1. A requirement that all employers produce and submit a training 
program for FRA approval.
    2. A requirement that all employers implement this training program 
in the initial and ongoing training for all safety-critical railroad 
employees.
    3. A requirement that certain employers monitor the outcomes of 
their training programs and revise the programs if and when evidence 
arises of the need for revision.
    FRA believes that well-designed training programs have the 
potential to reduce risk in the railroad environment, therefore 
reducing the frequency and severity of accidents. FRA's expectation is 
that the programs submitted for approval will reflect the insights of 
training models that are recognized and generally accepted by the 
academic and training communities for formal initial training, on-the-
job training (OJT), and refresher training. Furthermore, FRA expects 
that these training programs will use ``hands-on'' or engaging training 
methods where practicable and appropriate.\1\ These programs will 
include: Initial, ongoing, and OJT criteria; testing and skills 
evaluation measures designed to ensure continual compliance with 
applicable Federal standards; and the identification of critical safety 
defects and plans for immediate remedial actions to correct them. The 
rule also contains specific training and qualification requirements for 
operators of roadway maintenance machines that can hoist, lower, and 
horizontally move a suspended load. Finally, the rule clarifies the 
existing training requirements for railroad and contractor employees 
that perform brake system inspections, tests, or maintenance.
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    \1\ In the background of this final rule, FRA uses the terms 
``hands-on training'' and ``hands-on training components.'' These 
terms are not meant to signify a type of formal training, but a 
technique used during some types of formal training (most commonly, 
classroom and on-the-job). Hands-on training include one or more 
activities in which there is an opportunity for learners to touch 
the items to be used to perform the task, and to attempt, practice, 
or perform portions of the task being learned. On-the-job (OJT) 
training allows the learner to actually do the tasks required on a 
job, under the close scrutiny of a qualified person. See Sec.  
243.201(c)(2).
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Costs and Benefits

    In analyzing the final rule, FRA has applied updated ``Guidance on 
the Economic Value of a Statistical Life in US Department of 
Transportation Analyses,'' March 2013. This policy updates the Value of 
a Statistical Life (VSL) from $6.2 million to $9.1 million and revises 
guidance used to compute benefits based on injury and fatality 
avoidance in each year of the analysis based on forecasts from the 
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of a 1.07% annual growth rate in 
median real wages over the next 30 years (2013-2043). FRA also adjusted 
wage-based labor costs in each year of the analysis accordingly. Real 
wages represent the purchasing power of nominal wages. Non-wage inputs 
are not impacted.
    The primary cost and benefit drivers for this RIA are labor costs 
and avoided injuries and fatalities, both of which in turn depend on 
wage rates.
    Based on the new DOT guidance and CBO wage forecast, the total non-
discounted cost of the final rule over the 20-year period analyzed is 
approximately $389.9 million. Present discounted costs evaluated over 
the first 20 years of the final rule equal about $290.9 million at a 3% 
discount rate and about $207.1 million at a 7% discount rate. The 
annualized costs are $26.2 million at a 3% discount rate and $36.8 
million at a 7% discount rate.
    Additionally, FRA has performed a break-even analysis of the final 
rule, estimating the reduction in railroad-related accidents and 
incidents that will be required in order for the benefits of the final 
rule to offset the costs. FRA believes the final rule will reduce rail-
related accidents and incidents, and associated fatalities, injuries, 
and property damage, through implementation of the hands-on and other 
enhanced training methods.\2\ Table 1 shows the total present 
discounted annual costs of accidents and incidents that would be 
incurred over the next 20 years, where injuries and fatalities have 
been monetized according to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) 
policies; and shows the percent reduction in accidents and incidents 
that would be necessary for the monetized reduction in fatalities, 
injuries, and property damages caused by these accidents to justify 
implementation of this final rule. These calculations take into account 
various recent and concurrent initiatives to address accidents, 
including implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems, 
issuance of passenger hours of service regulations, development of 
conductor certification standards, a rule to provide protection to 
roadway workers working next to adjacent track, and the implementation 
of programs to address fatigue and electronic device distraction, among 
others.
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    \2\ Hands-on training is generally used by instructors/trainers 
to re-enforce new skills to the learner. Hands-on can be a simulated 
exercise in a laboratory, classroom, or it can be used in the actual 
work environment similar to OJT. Hands-on activity enables the 
trainer/instructor to objectively assess learning transfer based on 
successful completion of the task to be performed.
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    Using the 2013 VSL guidance, FRA estimates that this final rule 
will break even if it results in a 20-year total reduction in relevant 
railroad accidents and incidents of 4.59% using a 3% discount rate, and 
4.59% using a 7% discount rate. Another way to look at this break even 
reduction is to describe it in terms of how many accidents or

[[Page 66462]]

incidents need to be avoided for the final rule to be worth the costs 
associated with it. In viewing the reduction in this manner, the break-
even point corresponds to approximately 118 accidents and incidents per 
year on average over the 20-year period. Of course, no accident or 
incident is ``average'' and there are far fewer major accidents, 
fatalities, and severe injuries reported to FRA than there are other 
accidents/incidents meeting the reporting requirements. Of the 118 
accidents and incident reductions necessary to break even annually, FRA 
considered that those would likely include at least one severe injury 
and many incidents that result in relatively minor, yet still 
reportable injuries.\3\ Another way this rule would break even is by 
preventing one fatality and 86 injuries per year. Between 2001 and 
2010, the number of accidents and incidents \4\ decreased throughout 
the railroad industry due to various safety initiatives. During this 
same time period, there has been a significant growth in passenger and 
freight traffic. This new regulation on training standards should 
further contribute toward the decreasing trend of railroad accidents 
throughout the country in a more challenging, and higher traffic 
environment.
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    \3\ Accidents/incidents are reportable to FRA, and the 
requirements for when injuries reach the reportable threshold are 
found in 49 CFR part 225. For instance, nearly all accidents/
incidents arising from the operation of a railroad that result in a 
death, injury, or occupational illness are reportable.
    \4\ In 2010, railroads reported to FRA 1,874 train accidents and 
6,644 incidents.
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    The following table summarizes estimates using the revised DOT 
guidance and CBO real wage rate forecasts.

                                                         Table 1--Summary of Breakeven Analysis
                                                                   [2013 VSL guidance]
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                                                                                               Present value of
   Present value of potential annual benefits (3%        Total present     Percent reduction   potential annual      Total present     Percent reduction
                   discount rate)                      discounted costs    for breakeven (3%     benefits (7%      discounted costs    for breakeven (7%
                                                      (3% discount rate)    discount rate)      discount rate)    (7% discount rate)    discount rate)
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$6,333,998,623......................................       $290,932,418                4.59      $4,507,378,459        $207,068,184                4.59
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II. RSIA Requirement

    Section 20162 of 49 U.S.C. requires the Secretary of Transportation 
(Secretary) to establish minimum training standards for safety-related 
railroad employees and the submission of training plans from railroad 
carriers, contractors, and subcontractors for the Secretary's approval. 
The Secretary delegated this authority to the Federal Railroad 
Administrator. 49 CFR 1.89(b).
    FRA quoted the relevant provisions of Section 20162 in the proposed 
rule, 77 FR 6412, 6413-6414 (Feb. 7, 2012), and those provisions are 
summarized here. In paragraph (a)(1), the statute contained a mandate 
that the employers of each safety-related railroad employee be required 
``to qualify or otherwise document the proficiency of such employees in 
each such class and craft regarding their knowledge of, and ability to 
comply with, Federal railroad safety laws and regulations and railroad 
carrier rules and procedures promulgated to implement those Federal 
railroad safety laws and regulations.'' Paragraph (a)(2) of the statute 
mandated a requirement for employers to ``submit training and 
qualification plans . . . for approval.'' In paragraph (a)(3), the 
statute requires that the Secretary ensure that the employer submitted 
programs specifically address the training of safety-related railroad 
employees charged with the inspection of track or railroad equipment so 
that these employees are qualified to assess railroad compliance with 
Federal standards, not only to identify and correct defective 
conditions, but to initiate immediate remedial action to correct 
critical safety defects that are known to contribute to derailments, 
accidents, incidents, or injuries. Furthermore, paragraphs (b) and (c) 
of the statute set out the method of the plan approval and permit the 
Secretary to exempt employers from submitting plans previously 
approved.
    Please also note that there is a statutory definition of ``safety-
related railroad employee.'' 49 U.S.C. 20102. That definition was 
quoted in the NPRM. 77 FR 6414. The preamble and section-by-section 
analysis of both the NPRM and this final rule explain how FRA has 
interpreted that statutory definition.
    Although the legislative history does not offer an explanation 
regarding why the statute requires that the rule should address 
contractors and subcontractors, FRA surmises that Congress recognizes 
that the railroad workforce consists of safety-related railroad 
employees, some of which are employed by railroads and others by 
contractors. These employees are side-by-side, often doing the same 
work, or doing work that was previously thought to be exclusively 
reserved for employees of a railroad. Contractors and subcontractors 
can be found on railroads of all sizes and kinds, from shortlines to 
major freight railroads, as well as passenger railroads. Given the 
statutory construction, Congress apparently recognized the need for FRA 
oversight of each contractor's training program and did not make an 
exception for small employers specifically. FRA has no evidence to 
suggest the risk posed by each safety-related employee differs by 
contractor size. This is especially so given the risks associated with 
working for a major railroad that operates trains in close proximity to 
one another, for long distances, at high speeds, and with heavy tonnage 
and train length. The same is true for the increased risks associated 
with employees of a contractor or subcontractor working for a commuter 
railroad where the protection of passengers and the general public at 
grade crossings is paramount.

III. RSAC Overview

    In March 1996, FRA established the Railroad Safety Advisory 
Committee (RSAC), which provides a forum for collaborative rulemaking 
and program development. RSAC includes representatives from all of the 
agency's major stakeholder groups, including railroads, labor 
organizations, suppliers and manufacturers, and other interested 
parties. In the NPRM, FRA provided a list of RSAC members. 77 FR 6414. 
The membership list did not change between the NPRM and the end of the 
comment period.
    When appropriate, FRA assigns a task to RSAC, and after 
consideration and debate, RSAC may accept or reject the task. If 
accepted, RSAC establishes a working group that possesses the 
appropriate expertise and representation of interests to develop 
recommendations to FRA for action on the task. These recommendations 
are developed by

[[Page 66463]]

consensus. The working group may establish one or more task forces or 
other subgroups to develop facts and options on a particular aspect of 
a given task. The task force, or other subgroup, reports to the working 
group. If a working group comes to consensus on recommendations for 
action, the package is presented to RSAC for a vote. If the proposal is 
accepted by a simple majority of RSAC, the proposal is formally 
recommended to FRA. FRA then determines what action to take on the 
recommendation.
    Because FRA staff play an active role at the working group level in 
discussing the issues and options and in drafting the language of the 
consensus proposal, and because the RSAC recommendation constitutes the 
consensus of some of the industry's leading experts on a given subject, 
FRA is often favorably inclined toward the RSAC recommendation. 
However, FRA is in no way bound to follow the recommendation and the 
agency exercises its independent judgment on whether the recommended 
rule achieves the agency's regulatory goals, is soundly supported, and 
is in accordance with applicable policy and legal requirements. Often, 
FRA varies in some respects from the RSAC recommendation in developing 
the actual regulatory proposal or final rule. Any such variations would 
be noted and explained in the rulemaking document issued by FRA. If the 
working group or RSAC is unable to reach consensus on recommendations 
for action, FRA would explain in the rulemaking documents that RSAC did 
not make a consensus recommendation on a particular issue. Of course, 
whether FRA receives an RSAC recommendation or not, FRA is free to use 
information collected from RSAC participants as a basis for any of its 
decisions during the rulemaking action.

IV. RSAC Training Standards and Plans Working Group

    As discussed in the NPRM, this proposal was based primarily on the 
consensus recommendations of RSAC. 77 FR 6415. The NPRM was published 
for comment on February 7, 2012 and provided background on the task 
statement, the organizations and businesses that participated as the 
Working Group, and the number of meetings held. The docket contains 
minutes from those meetings.
    In order to further benefit from the input of the RSAC, FRA held a 
meeting with the Working Group on May 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. The 
purpose of the meeting was to allow the Working Group's members to 
provide further written or oral comment on the public comments on the 
NPRM. Although FRA was interested in areas of agreement, FRA did not 
take the further step of bringing any issues to the full RSAC for a 
formal recommendation as the issues in disagreement did not appear to 
substantially impact the prior consensus-based recommendations. Minutes 
from this meeting are part of the docket in this proceeding and are 
available for public inspection.

V. Discussion of Specific Comments and Conclusions

    FRA received written comments in response to the NPRM from a number 
of interested parties. As previously mentioned, FRA discussed these 
comments with the Working Group to allow RSAC commenters an opportunity 
to elaborate on any comments filed, including their own. FRA did not 
receive a request for a public hearing and none was provided.
    Most of the comments are discussed in the Section-by-Section 
Analysis or in the Regulatory Impact and Notices portion of this final 
rule directly with the provisions and statements to which they 
specifically relate. Other comments apply more generally to the final 
rule as a whole, and FRA is discussing them here. Please note that the 
order in which the comments are discussed in this document, whether by 
issue or by commenter, is not intended to reflect the significance of 
the comment raised or the standing of the commenter.

A. Implementation Dates and Incentives for Early Filing of Programs

    In the NPRM, FRA identified a major issue under the heading 
``Incentives for Early Filing of Program.'' FRA's intent was to 
encourage interested parties to file comments regarding how to make the 
training program submission and review process quicker and more 
efficient. FRA raised several proposals and explained that the agency 
was willing to consider any incentives or approaches that are intended 
to encourage early submission and improve the efficiency and 
effectiveness of the review process. The paramount issue was whether 
the proposed implementation schedule provided model program developers 
with sufficient time to develop programs and receive FRA approval, 
keeping in mind that employers would not use those model programs 
unless the employers were provided with a reasonable amount of time to 
consider using those programs prior to the employer's deadline for 
implementation.
Reaction to the NPRM
    The following is a summary of the comments received on this issue. 
No commenter took the position that the NPRM provided an employer with 
sufficient time to consider model programs and develop a program. 
Nearly every comment focused on the proposed existing employer's burden 
to meet the implementation deadline of one year and 120 days after the 
effective date of the rule. Only a few comments focused on the 
incentives for early filing of programs suggested by FRA in the NPRM.
    The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association 
(NRC) states that the NPRM does not afford adequate time for model 
programs to be developed. NRC requests that model program development 
be completed within three years of the effective date of the final rule 
and that each contractor then have two additional years to gain 
approval of and implement its program. Thus, NRC requests five years 
for contractors to implement training programs rather than the proposed 
requirement of one year and 120 days after the effective date of the 
rule.
    AAR agrees that the time frames in the NPRM are aggressive and 
provides several reasons why they should be extended. AAR explains that 
railroads will need to craft training programs and establish new 
processes for retention of training records and related information, 
including new or revised IT programs. FRA will need time to review and 
approve each program. After approval, railroads will need time to 
implement the programs during the regular training cycle in the first 
half of each calendar year. AAR suggests that the effective date for 
providing training under the rule be January 1 three years after 
publication of the final rule. AAR also reminds FRA to ensure that all 
of its compliance deadlines are consistent, including the date by which 
refresher training must begin.
    ASLRRA mentions that it urges the adoption of AAR's recommendation 
to extend the filing date for each railroad's training program to three 
years and contractor programs to five years. ASLRRA explains that it 
does not currently have the financial or personnel resources to create 
model programs. Even with FRA's help, ASLRRA envisions that it will 
take at least two years to create and obtain approval of any model 
programs. Because ASLRRA considers three years to be a very aggressive 
schedule, it appears to suggest in its comment that it would be 
amenable if FRA were to

[[Page 66464]]

provide short line railroads with even more time to submit a training 
program.
    APTA recommends that FRA extend implementation dates for passenger 
rail systems to six years. APTA believes passenger railroads could 
begin phasing in new training in three years, but would not complete 
training until year six. APTA states that phasing in the development 
and implementation of training is more realistic in consideration of 
the complexities of the public funding and public budget processes to 
which nearly all commuter railroads are subject. Likewise, the 
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which includes LIRR and 
MNCW, recommends that the implementation schedule provide at least 
three years to implement a program. MTA raised the additional concern 
that it be provided with the flexibility to start a new training 
program at the beginning of the calendar year.
    REB states that it would be helpful for the employers' 
implementation date to be pushed back at least one year after the 
implementation date for training organizations and learning 
institutions. REB believes this one year extension would provide an 
employer with sufficient time to consider whether it can use a specific 
solution from an outside training organization or learning institution. 
Without this extra time, REB maintains that an employer may be thrown 
into a situation where it has to develop its own material or seek a 
solution from other training vendors quickly.
    One commenter recommends pushing back the deadline for a small 
employer to at least one year after the submission deadline for model 
programs submitted by other entities. FRA notes that neither the 
proposed rule nor final rule contains a deadline for model program 
submission. Another commenter does not believe FRA would have the time 
to examine all the initial training courses and conduct continual 
yearly inspections.
FRA's Response
    Throughout the RSAC and rulemaking processes, FRA has continuously 
recognized the importance of providing employers, and every other type 
of entity that must file a training program, with sufficient time to 
consider all options and draft the required programs. FRA is acutely 
aware of the annual training cycle followed by the major railroads and 
the agency does not intend to disrupt that cycle by any requirement 
promulgated in this rule. Furthermore, in the NPRM, FRA raised the 
topic of incentives for early filing of programs due to the concern 
that the agency's program review process could be time consuming and 
resource intensive. Thus, the comments echo many of the same concerns 
that FRA raised in the proposal, and confirm the need to provide more 
generous implementation deadlines than those proposed.
    The NPRM's preamble discussion included several suggestions 
involving how to encourage the filing of programs that have the benefit 
of being used by multiple employers. For instance, in Sec.  243.105, 
FRA proposed an option for any organization, business, or association 
to develop one or more model training programs that could be used by 
multiple employers and that option has been retained in the final rule. 
Likewise, in Sec.  243.111, FRA proposed an option for programs to be 
filed by training organizations and learning institutions, and that 
option has also been retained in the final rule. FRA expects that most 
class III railroads and contractors, and some class II railroads, would 
prefer to utilize one of these options.
    In the NPRM, one of FRA's suggestions was to encourage model 
program developers to file early. The comments received suggested that 
those organizations most likely to develop model programs believe that 
development of such programs will be more difficult than originally 
contemplated. Consequently, the commenters do not believe model 
programs can be developed on a more compressed schedule. The comments 
suggest that the incentives to file early are unlikely to work and the 
employers that are most likely to benefit from model programs would be 
left scrambling to cobble together individual programs. If the 
commenters are right, a tight implementation schedule would defeat 
other provisions that appear to provide choices and flexibility in 
adopting a training program developed by an entity other than the 
employer.
    In order to solve this dilemma, FRA is turning to an option it 
suggested in the NPRM. In the proposed rule, FRA stated that the 
deadline for an employer submission, under Sec.  243.101(a), could be 
pushed back so that the deadline would be at least one year after the 
submission deadline for an existing training organization or learning 
institution under Sec.  243.111(b), instead of the proposed 120 days. 
REB commented that it agreed with this suggestion. Obviously, if 
employers are provided with more time to consider model programs, as 
well as programs of training organizations and learning institutions, 
the employers are more likely to find such programs suitable for use 
either off the shelf or with some tailoring to fit the employer's 
individual needs. Thus, FRA has decided to extend the deadline to file 
a program until January 1, 2018, for an existing employer conducting 
operations subject to this part with 400,000 total employee work hours 
annually or more. FRA also plans to issue a compliance guide, that can 
be used by all employers, but written with a primary emphasis on 
assisting small entities. The compliance guide will also help model 
program developers in drafting programs to be adopted by small 
railroads and contractors. Thus, for an existing employer with less 
than 400,000 total employee work hours, FRA has decided to extend the 
deadline to file a program until January 1, 2019 or four years from the 
date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance Guide, whichever is 
later. For an employer with less than 400,000 total employee work hours 
annually that commences operations subject to this part after January 
1, 2018, but prior to the date that similarly sized small employers 
will be required to submit a program, the regulation permits the 
employer to abide by the later deadline of January 1, 2019 or four 
years from the date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance 
Guide, whichever is later, rather than adopting and complying with a 
training program upon commencing operations. These extended deadlines 
are found in Sec.  243.101(a)(1), (a)(2), and (b) of this final rule 
respectively. Please note that FRA considered an NRC comment described 
in the agency's final policy statement concerning small entitities 
subject to the railroad safety laws, 68 FR 24891 (May, 9, 2003), when 
considering how to define small entities under this rulemaking. In 
response to that interim policy statement, NRC requested that FRA 
define contractor small entities as those entities having less than a 
total of 400,000 total employee work hours annually without any 
qualifier such as limiting small entities to those with $20 million or 
less in annual operating revenues. In the policy statement, FRA 
explained that it would retain the ability to use different criteria to 
tailor the appliciablity of the rule to address a specific problem, 
e.g., a problem related to defining small contractors, and that 
limiting small entities by total employee work hours annually, as FRA 
has done here, is appropriate under this type of circumstance.
    An employer's initial program is considered approved upon 
submission and therefore it may be implemented immediately upon 
submission, but certainly must be implemented no later

[[Page 66465]]

than the applicable deadline. These extensions, from the proposed 
implementation date of one year and 120 days from the rule's effective 
date, will provide each employer with at least three years (or at least 
four years, if a small entity employer) to develop its own program or 
adopt a program developed by other entities. The significantly longer 
implementation period is consistent with the requests made by AAR and 
MTA, as well as ASLRRA's request for an extension for railroads. APTA 
and NRC requested a bit more time, but FRA does not believe that 
employers will need five or six years to develop training programs, 
especially when these employers will be able to adopt previously 
approved model programs or seek help from training organizations and 
learning institutions with approved programs.
    Although there is no deadline for filing a model program under 
Sec.  243.105, model programs will generally not be adopted by 
employers unless they are developed and made available well before an 
employer's program is due. FRA addressed a portion of this problem by 
proposing to extend the deadline for an employer to file. However, the 
proposed rule also created uncertainty for developers of model programs 
regarding when the developers could expect to receive approval or 
disapproval of a submitted model program. To combat this uncertainty, 
FRA has adopted another of the agency's suggestions from the NPRM. 
Thus, in this final rule FRA is adding paragraph (a)(3) to Sec.  
243.105 so that model program developers can be assured that each model 
training program submitted to FRA prior to May 1, 2017, will be 
considered approved and may be implemented 180 days after the date of 
submission unless FRA advises the organization, business, or 
association that developed and submitted the program that all or part 
of the program does not conform. By adding this condition, model 
program developers can be assured that they may begin marketing their 
model programs 180 days after filing such a program with FRA unless the 
agency explicitly disapproves any portion of the program. This implicit 
approval process also encourages FRA to more quickly review model 
programs and a byproduct may be that FRA is able to approve some model 
programs in less than 180 days. Please note that model programs could 
be filed after May 1, 2017, but FRA will be under no obligation to 
review and approve those programs in a set period of time, nor would 
most employers that are likely to use model programs be able to use 
such a program if it is not approved ahead of the deadline established 
in Sec.  243.101(a)(2).\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ In the Regulatory Impact Analysis filed in the docket, FRA 
estimates that 1,459 employers with less than 400,000 total annual 
work hours annually may choose to adopt a model program rather than 
develop their own program. FRA estimates that an additional 11 
employers with more than 400,000 total annual work hours annually 
may choose to adopt a model program and would need to meet the 
earlier January 1, 2018 deadline for program submission found in 
Sec.  243.101(a)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AAR also recommends that FRA ensure that all of its compliance 
deadlines are consistent, including the date by which refresher 
training must begin. FRA presumes that AAR wants the implementation 
dates to be consistent with one another so that the timeline for action 
has a logical flow, and the agency agrees with this approach. 
Consequently, the final rule contains a number of corresponding 
implementation date adjustments. For example, each employer with 
400,000 total employee work hours annually or more under Sec.  
243.201(a)(1), will be required to designate each of its existing 
safety-related railroad employees by occupational category or 
subcategory, and only permit designated employees to perform safety-
related service in that occupational category or subcategory as of 
September 1, 2018, which therefore provides 8 months from the date that 
the employer's program is due under Sec.  243.101(a)(1). A similar 
deadline change is being made by creating a separate requirement in 
Sec.  243.201(a)(2), for small entity employers, so that it corresponds 
with the, deadline contained in Sec.  243.101(a)(2).
    AAR also specifically raised the issue that the proposed period for 
initially implementing refresher training should be extended. Again, 
FRA agrees. The NPRM proposed that employers begin refresher training 
beginning on January 1, two years after the effective date of the final 
rule. If FRA had left the proposal intact, refresher training would be 
required starting January 1, 2017. However, the final rule will not 
require employers to file programs until January 1, 2018, at the 
earliest, so the proposed deadline clearly would not work. Given the 
extended deadlines for filing programs, corresponding changes were made 
in setting the final rule's deadlines for beginning the implementation 
of a mandatory refresher training program. Thus, each employer with 
400,000 total employee work hours annually or more must have a 
refresher training program in place on January 1, 2020 and, likewise, 
each employer with less than 400,000 total employee work hours annually 
must have a refresher training program in place on January 1, 2022 or 
six years from the date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance 
Guide, whichever is later. These deadlines for ``beginning'' to deliver 
refresher training are not deadlines for ``completing'' that refresher 
training for each existing employee. FRA has set deadlines for 
completing refresher training for each existing employee: December 31, 
2022 for each employer with 400,000 total employee work hours annually 
or more, and December 31, 2023 for each employer with less than 400,000 
total employee work hours annually. Otherwise, when an employee is due 
for refresher training will depend on when that employee last had 
initial or refresher training covering the subject matter.
    During Working Group meetings and in the NPRM, FRA expressed the 
opinion that a grace period should be provided for starting refresher 
training as well as credit provided for any training provided in the 
last three years, even though that training might have been conducted 
prior to the adoption of the training program required by this part. 
FRA reviewed the refresher training deadline proposal and found that it 
was too constricting. The proposed refresher training concept would not 
have granted an employer a reasonable grace period when many employers 
will train one-third of their workforce each year. In order to provide 
some kind of grace period that would accommodate the typical refresher 
training cycle, the rule would need to stretch the refresher training 
deadline to more than three years after the deadline for adoption of a 
program. Thus, the final rule is extending the deadline for completing 
mandatory refresher training to December 31, 2022, for each employer 
with 400,000 total employee work hours annually or more, and to 
December 31, 2023, for each employer with less than 400,000 total 
employee work hours annually. This means that whether an employer is 
large, medium, or small, the employer will have two calendar years from 
its program submission deadline to begin implementing a refresher 
training program and an additional three calendar years to complete 
providing refresher training to all safety-related railroad employees 
who have not had a relevant training event per the employee's 
designation in an occupational category or subcategory within the past 
three calendar years. FRA's expectation is that the relaxation of the 
implementation schedule should make it easier for employers to comply 
with the rule.

[[Page 66466]]

    FRA notes its disagreement with the commenter that contended that 
FRA would not have the time to examine all the initial training courses 
and conduct continual yearly inspections. The relaxation of the 
implementation dates should lead to greater use of model programs and 
the use of training organizations and learning institutions. FRA 
approval of those programs first should ease FRA's program review 
burden. Meanwhile, FRA has already begun the process of considering how 
to allocate its resources to accomplish training program reviews and 
audits. Finally, FRA notes that it is not under any legal mandate to 
conduct yearly inspections or audits of every employer covered by this 
rule.

B. Hazmat Employees Not Covered

    FRA received two comments requesting that the rule contain explicit 
language that hazardous materials training is not covered by this rule. 
AAR recommends that FRA clearly state in the purpose and scope section 
that hazardous materials training is not covered by these regulations 
because the NPRM was not clear enough on this point. A second commenter 
recommends that FRA specify in the regulation that hazmat employees, 
hazmat employers, and hazmat training organizations and learning 
institutions be explicitly excluded from the regulation.
FRA's Response
    FRA generally agrees with the commenters that it is better to 
include an explicit statement regarding the scope of the rule than to 
leave that issue to the preamble. However, FRA was not ambiguous in the 
NPRM regarding whether the proposed rule covered hazardous materials 
training. In the section-by-section analysis for proposed Sec.  243.5, 
definition of safety-related railroad employee, FRA stated that the 
NPRM did not address the training of hazmat employees even though the 
statutory definition of safety-related railroad employee covers a 
hazmat employee of a railroad carrier as defined in 49 U.S.C. 5102(3). 
FRA proposed to decline regulating the training of hazmat employees in 
this rule as that training is already extensively covered by DOT 
regulations promulgated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety 
Administration (PHMSA). See e.g., 49 CFR part 172, subpart H. The 
hazmat training required by PHMSA for hazmat employees mandates general 
familiarity with hazmat requirements, especially when the employee's 
duties may impact emergency responses, self-protection measures and 
accident prevention methods and procedures. See 49 CFR 172.200(b). FRA 
is satisfied that the training requirements are sufficiently addressed 
by PHMSA and does not believe that Congress intended for FRA to 
overcomplicate the existing rules governing hazmat training.
    Despite the agency's clarity on this issue in the NPRM, FRA has 
decided to address the issue by adding a paragraph (e) to Sec.  243.1 
of this final rule that explicitly excludes hazmat training for hazmat 
employees and clarifies that such training can be found in 49 CFR part 
172, subpart H. Paragraph (e) states that ``[t]he requirements in this 
part do not address hazardous materials training of `hazmat employees' 
as defined in 49 CFR 171.8.'' However, this exclusion does not mean 
that a hazmat employee would not be covered under any circumstances. 
The definition of hazmat employees in PHMSA's regulation is so broad 
that it encompasses railroad signalmen, railroad maintenance-of-way 
employees, and even locomotive engineers if they operate a vehicle used 
to transport hazmats. FRA certainly intends to cover the training for 
these ``safety-related railroad employees'' when they are doing safety-
related tasks, even if these types of employees may also be defined by 
PHMSA as hazmat employees and require additional training under PHMSA's 
regulations. See Sec.  243.5 (defining ``safety-related tasks''). In 
other words, paragraph (e) is intended to be read so that a hazmat 
employee will need to be trained in accordance with this part to the 
extent that the employee is doing safety-related tasks that are not 
covered by hazmat training required elsewhere in 49 CFR Subtitle B. 
Subtitle B encompasses other regulations relating to transportation, 
including hazmat training regulated by PHMSA found at 49 CFR part 172, 
subpart H. The training required by PHMSA does not overlap with the 
training required by this final rule.
    FRA disagrees with the comment recommending that FRA specify in the 
regulation that hazmat employees, hazmat employers, and hazmat training 
organizations and learning institutions be explicitly excluded from the 
regulation. FRA declines to accept this comment because it is too broad 
and may have implications beyond what the commenter intended. That is, 
if the recommendation were adopted as suggested by the commenter, the 
rejected requirement could be viewed as excluding any railroad (or 
employer) employing a hazmat employee instead of excluding just the 
hazmat training for those hazmat employees. For that reason, FRA has 
rejected that recommendation.

C. Preemptive Effect and Construction

    FRA received a jointly filed comment from BLET, BMWED, and BRS 
(``joint labor comment''), that agreed with FRA's statement in the 
NPRM's section-by-section analysis to Sec.  243.201 that ``[o]f course, 
FRA does not regulate employment issues and will leave those issues to 
be settled in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining 
agreement or employment and labor law.'' 77 FR 6435. The joint labor 
comment would like FRA to go further by adding a paragraph (e) to Sec.  
243.1 that states that ``[n]othing in this part diminishes any rights, 
privileges, or remedies a safety-related employee may have under any 
collective bargaining agreement or State or Federal law.'' During the 
Working Group meeting to discuss the comments, BMWED pointed out that 
there is no appeals process in the NPRM and that FRA should preserve 
the employees' rights that exist today, whether those rights are found 
in a collective bargaining agreement or anti-discrimination statutes.
FRA's Response
    FRA stands by the statement in the NPRM cited by the joint labor 
comment. However, based on the principles set forth in Executive Order 
13132, and affirmed in the Presidential Memorandum regarding preemption 
issued on May 20, 2009, it is unnecessary to include a statement in the 
rule regarding whether any requirement in the rule is expected to 
diminish any rights, privileges, or remedies a safety-related railroad 
employee may have under any collective bargaining agreement, State law, 
or Federal law.

D. Request for Preemption Provision for Entities That Develop Model 
Programs

    Two commenters, NRC and ASLRRA, were concerned that entities that 
develop model programs could be subject to State causes of action 
should an injured individual claim that harm resulted from inadequate 
employee training derived from a model program created in response to 
this training rule. The comments raise a concern that the threat of 
litigation is a real disincentive for organizations to create model 
programs and that, without a preemption provision, the model program 
option will not be utilized.
FRA's Response
    FRA does not have the legal authority to preempt the use of model 
training programs as a basis for liability or discovery in private 
litigation. Thus, FRA is not including such a preemption provision. The 
basis for this request may

[[Page 66467]]

be the result of similar discussions in the context of the risk 
reduction and system safety plan rulemakings. In that context, however, 
a statute provides FRA with the authority to conduct a study on the 
issue and, on the basis of the results of that study, FRA will be able 
to include some preemption language in those specific rules, if 
applicable. Meanwhile, as a general matter, FRA cannot decide by 
regulation whether documents, such as a model training plan, would be 
discoverable in litigation, and the agency's statutory preemption 
provision at 49 U.S.C. 20106(b)(1)(B) specifically provides that State 
law causes of action for death, injury, or property damage are not 
preempted if they are based on the failure of a party ``to comply with 
its own plan, rule or standard that it created pursuant to a regulation 
or order issued by'' the Secretary of Transportation.

E. Training Required of Manufacturer's Employees and Other Contractors 
Who Inspect, Repair, and Maintain Equipment off Railroad Property

    FRA received a comment from GE Railcar requesting clarification of 
the purpose and scope of the rule found in Sec.  243.1. GE Railcar's 
position is that its leasing and repair activities fall outside the 
scope of the rule and this contractor would like FRA to confirm its 
understanding. GE Railcar's business represents most of the diversity 
of the railcar business because it leases railroad cars, operates 
railcar repair shops, and has mobile repair capabilities to perform 
railcar repairs at a customer's site on railcars that it leases. FRA 
notes that some contractors may also operate a railcar or locomotive 
repair shop for a railroad on a railroad's property that is not a 
mobile repair situation. GE Railcar reads the proposed rule and guiding 
section-by-section analysis as limited to companies and their employees 
who have contracted with a railroad and are actually working on a 
railroad's real property.
FRA's Response
    GE Railcar's comment raises a scope question. A review of the NPRM 
found that the proposal adequately addressed the scope question as it 
pertains to track and signal system repair. However, the NPRM could 
have described how the rule pertains to mechanical repair work in 
greater detail. Thus, the following paragraphs explain the scope of the 
final rule in relation to GE Railcar's question.
    In describing item (4) of the definition of safety-related railroad 
employee in the NPRM, FRA explained the scope of training for an 
individual who is engaged or compensated by an employer to inspect, 
repair, or maintain locomotives, passenger cars, or freight cars. The 
NPRM's section-by-section analysis stated that the inclusion of 
proposed item (4) ``is essential [so] that individuals doing such 
safety-sensitive work are trained to comply with those laws or rules 
mandated by the Federal government for keeping those locomotives and 
cars in safe order.'' 77 FR 6412, 6423.
    In deciding the scope question for mechanical personnel supplied by 
contractors, the answer mainly rests on the contractual obligations the 
non-railroad company owes to the railroad. For example, a company that 
simply manufactures or leases rolling equipment (i.e., locomotives and 
railroad cars), but does not inspect, repair, or maintain the purchased 
or leased rolling equipment, does not have any duty under this rule to 
file a training program because its employees are not performing any of 
the duties that would cause the employees to be classified as ``safety-
related railroad employees.'' In other words, the manufacturer or 
lessor of the rolling equipment would not be under contract with the 
railroad to inspect, repair, or maintain locomotives, passenger cars, 
or freight cars. Under this example, the railroad that purchases or 
leases the rolling equipment would have the duty to inspect the rolling 
equipment and make sure it complies with all applicable Federal 
railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders before placing the 
rolling equipment in use. See e.g., 49 CFR 229.21 (requiring 
locomotives to have a daily inspection), and part 231 (requiring 
certain safety appliances meeting specific standards), and part 232 
(requiring the inspection and testing of brake systems). If an 
inspection revealed that repairs or maintenance were necessary, it 
would be the responsibility of the railroad to arrange for those 
repairs or that maintenance to be completed. Under these circumstances, 
a railroad would need to file a training program under this rule and 
train its employees to perform the inspections, repairs, and 
maintenance; or, the railroad could hire a different company to 
contract the work and accept the training responsibilities.
    If a manufacturer or lessor of rolling equipment is under contract 
to provide a railroad with inspection, repair, or maintenance services 
necessary to comply with the federal regulations, then the contractor 
is required to train the employees performing those services in 
accordance with a training program required under this rule. See 66 FR 
4104, 4165 (January 17, 2001) (explaining that FRA intends for the 
training and qualification requirements of 49 CFR 232.203 to apply not 
only to railroad personnel but also to contract personnel that are 
responsible for performing brake system inspections, maintenance, or 
tests required by part 232). FRA does not believe there is any 
distinction made for contractor services performed off railroad 
property versus on railroad property. It also should not matter whether 
the repairs are made at a fixed location on the railroad's property or 
from a mobile repair facility.

F. Application and Responsibility of Compliance for Tourist, Scenic, 
Historic, and Excursion Railroads

    One commenter characterizes tourist, scenic, historic, and 
excursion railroads as largely run by people who are untrained and as 
railroad operations with many safety concerns. This commenter warns 
that the public will be put further at risk because the NPRM excludes 
these railroads from the training requirements. Thus, the commenter 
requests that FRA apply the final rule to tourist, scenic, historic, 
and excursion railroads.
FRA's Response
    As noted in the NPRM, the final rule would apply to tourist, 
scenic, historic, and excursion railroads that operate on the general 
system, which are the railroads that present the highest risk to 
members of the public. As discussed in the NPRM, FRA intends to apply 
its published policy statement regarding how the agency regulates 
tourist, scenic, historic, and excursion railroads, in determining 
necessary compliance with the provisions of this final rule. As stated 
in 49 CFR part 209, appendix A--The Extent and Exercise of FRA's Safety 
Jurisdiction (the Policy Statement), FRA asserts broad jurisdiction 
over tourist operations, and explains that it works to ensure that the 
rules it issues are appropriate to the circumstances of the tourist 
railroad industry. For example, FRA does not exercise jurisdiction over 
insular tourist railroads that are off the general system, and it 
applies a limited number of its regulations to non-insular tourist 
railroads that are off the general system. Additionally, FRA has 
excluded all tourist railroads from certain of its regulations, i.e., 
49 CFR parts 238 and 239 (passenger equipment safety standards and 
passenger train emergency preparedness). FRA stated in the Policy 
Statement that ``[i]n drafting safety rules, FRA has a specific 
obligation to consider financial, operational, or other factors that 
may be unique to tourist operations . . . [and therefore] we work to 
ensure that the

[[Page 66468]]

rules we issue are appropriate to their somewhat special 
circumstances.'' However, the enforcement policy retains all of the 
general power and enforcement provisions of the rail safety statutes, 
including the authority to obtain subpoenas and civil penalties and to 
issue disqualification orders and emergency orders.
    FRA only has limited resources, so it focuses on regulating those 
areas that would generate the most safety benefit. In the NPRM, FRA 
stated that the decision to exclude certain types of tourist operations 
that are not part of the general system of transportation is consistent 
with FRA's jurisdictional policy that already excludes these operations 
from all but a limited number of Federal safety laws, regulations, and 
orders. FRA disagrees with the contention that tourist, scenic, 
historic, and excursion railroads that do not operate on the general 
system of transportation are categorically unsafe and FRA continues to 
believe that it should not impose these training requirements on these 
small operations.

G. Application to Private Motorcar Operators

    One commenter raises an objection to private motorcars being 
operated on the general railroad system when the people operating these 
cars are untrained. A different commenter disagrees with the first 
commenter and states that, in his experience, motorcars have been safe 
and including them in this training rule would be over-reaching the 
intent of the RSIA.
FRA's Response
    The comment regarding the application of this rule to the training 
of motorcar operators is surprising to FRA because since August 1, 
1963, railroads have been prohibited from permitting motorcars to pull 
or haul trailers, push trucks, hand cars, or similar cars or equipment 
on their track. 49 CFR 231.22. A railroad motorcar is generally 
considered an antiquated piece of self-propelled on-track equipment 
that has been relegated to use by hobbyists.
    Considering that this rule only applies to the training of any 
person employed by a railroad or contractor of a railroad as a safety-
related railroad employee, it clearly does not apply to private 
motorcar owners and hobbyists who obtain permission from a railroad to 
operate on the railroad's track for purposes of enjoying the hobby. FRA 
has no basis to support the commenter's assertion that the operation of 
a private motorcar is so inherently unsafe that FRA should begin 
regulating the training of private operators who have taken up this 
hobby.

H. Application to Bridge Inspectors and Small Engineering Firms

    One commenter requests that the rule exempt small engineering firms 
that perform bridge inspections. The comment states that the cost of 
compliance is too great for these small entities. Meanwhile, the 
commenter concedes that training of such individuals on roadway worker 
protection should still be required to ensure on-track safety.
FRA's Response
    FRA is sensitive to the costs imposed by this rule, especially 
costs imposed on small entities, and the agency has addressed the costs 
and benefits elsewhere in this rule. The statute mandating this rule 
specifically requires that FRA address contractor training without 
regard to the number of employees or total annual operating revenue. 
FRA is concerned that if it were to provide an exemption to small 
entity contractors, a great number of safety-related railroad employees 
would not be covered by this rule and potentially would not receive the 
same quality training required by this rule.
    This preamble includes information regarding the substantial 
industry feedback on the NPRM and the comments received to the NPRM. 
FRA has not previously heard from the industry that any particular 
group of small entities will not be able to comply with the rule due to 
the costs involved. The option to use a model program or use programs 
submitted by training organizations or learning institutions should 
greatly ease the burden on small entities. FRA also expects to clarify 
the requirements and ease the burden on small engineering firms that 
conduct bridge inspections by addressing the issue in its compliance 
guide. Consequently, FRA does not agree that there is sufficient 
justification to exclude an entire type of small entity contractor from 
the responsibility to comply with this final rule.

I. Qualified Instructor

    One commenter recommends adding a definition of ``qualified 
instructor'' and that the definition state that the instructor must 
have ``exclusive, independently verifiable, educational training 
experience.'' The commenter's concern is that, without specifically 
defining the parameters of a qualified instructor, regional and short 
line railroads will have an incentive to designate individuals as 
instructors who are truly unqualified.
FRA's Response
    In the NPRM, FRA defined the term ``designated instructor'' but not 
``qualified instructor.'' However, the section-by-section analysis in 
the proposed rule describing the definition of designated instructor 
addressed the qualification issue. The analysis stated that ``FRA 
expects only qualified instructors will be designated, which explains 
why FRA is including in the definition that each designated person must 
have `demonstrated, pursuant to the training program submitted by the 
employer, training organization, or learning institution, an adequate 
knowledge of the subject matter under instruction and, where 
applicable, has the necessary experience to effectively provide formal 
training.' '' 77 FR 6422. As FRA has concluded that the proposed 
definition of a ``designated instructor'' includes the requirement that 
the instructor be qualified, and the term ``qualified'' is adequately 
defined, there is no reason to add a definition for ``qualified 
instructor.''
    FRA also does not share the commenter's concern that regional and 
short line railroads will have an incentive to designate individuals as 
instructors who are truly unqualified. It is reasonable to expect a 
railroad to employ instructors who can impart adequate knowledge on 
employees. A railroad that knowingly or negligently designates an 
unqualified person as an instructor would create unnecessary risk that 
the instructor, or an employee improperly trained by the instructor, 
would cause harm when attempting to perform a safety-related task. In 
an industry where safety lapses can result in serious injuries and 
costly accidents, an employer that fails to take the proper precautions 
to ensure that only qualified persons are designated as instructors 
would be taking on too much liability.

J. Training for Designated Instructors and Supervisors Performing 
Oversight

    AAR requests clarification regarding the training required for 
supervisors performing oversight. In AAR's view, a supervisor 
performing oversight should not necessarily be required, in all 
instances, to successfully complete the same craft training that the 
employees would be required to complete in accordance with the program. 
Instead, AAR suggests that a supervisor performing oversight should be 
trained on how to perform the oversight task.
    Similarly, AAR asks FRA to address the training required for a 
designated instructor in the final rule. AAR states that a railroad 
might choose, as part of a training program for train crews, to

[[Page 66469]]

have a person address the subject of fatigue mitigation who is not a 
conductor or engineer. AAR interprets the proposed rule so that the 
designated instructor needs to have demonstrated adequate knowledge of 
the subject under instruction, but does not need to be qualified in the 
occupational category or subcategory of the employees being trained.
FRA's Response
    FRA agrees with AAR's comment that not every designated instructor 
or supervisor performing oversight will need the identical training 
that the employer is providing to each occupational category or 
subcategory of safety-related railroad employee that is being trained 
by an instructor or subject to oversight by a supervisor. However, in 
instances where the training is not identical, the employer will need 
to discern how the instructor or supervisor can be deemed qualified. 
Typically in these instances, an employer will find an instructor 
qualified because the person holds a degree or certification from a 
training organization or learning institution, and an employer will 
find a supervisor qualified because the person has significant relevant 
work experience and can prove knowledge of the applicable rules. 
Certainly, FRA agrees with AAR that the important issue is that the 
instructor is qualified on the subject matter to which the instructor 
is instructing, not all the subject matters necessary to be qualified 
in the occupational category or subcategory of the employees being 
trained.
    The more difficult question, which AAR did not address in its 
comment, is what substitutes for the actual occupational category or 
subcategory training when the technical aspects of that training are 
involved. For example, can anyone who is not a carman instruct or 
supervise another carman on how to conduct certain equipment repairs or 
maintenance? FRA theorizes that an instructor in a classroom setting 
could be a college graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, 
and thus would be qualified without having been through the employer's 
training program for a carman. In other instances, a supervisor may 
only need to know the rules to conduct oversight, yet never have been 
qualified in the same occupational category or subcategory as the 
employee subject to oversight. For instance, a Manager of Operating 
Practices (MOP) observes that the roadway worker in charge of a work 
group does not conduct a proper job briefing, nor set up roadway worker 
protection correctly; in this situation, as long as the MOP understands 
and can apply the rule correctly, there should be no impediment to the 
MOP conducting the oversight.
    FRA also agrees with AAR that a supervisor performing oversight 
could not be deemed qualified without being trained on how to perform 
the oversight task. In conclusion, an instructor or supervisor may be 
qualified without successfully completing the same training that the 
employees would be required to complete in accordance with the program, 
but FRA will be scrutinizing such qualification requirements that 
substitute for that training to ensure that the railroad has provided 
an adequate basis for determining the individual is qualified.

 K. Refresher Training

    One commenter questioned whether the regulation should define 
refresher training and whether initial training courses can substitute 
for refresher training courses.
FRA's Response
    FRA included refresher training in the proposed rule in order to 
address Congress's mandate that the training regulation include 
requirements for ``ongoing training.'' The NPRM did not define the term 
``refresher training,'' but the issues surrounding this particular type 
of training were described in the section-by-section analysis to 
paragraph (e) of Sec.  243.201. In the NPRM, FRA made clear that 
refresher training could be exactly the same as initial training, but 
that it does not have to be exactly the same training. Refresher 
training is expected to be comprehensive, but the developer of the 
training should develop it with the understanding that the employees 
participating have experience in the subject matter of the training. 
Experienced employees may not need the step-by-step instruction 
covering every requirement that would be included in initial training. 
In other words, the refresher training may not need to cover truly 
basic tasks or issues that no practicing employee in that field would 
have a question about.
    Refresher training should most likely be focused on placing greater 
emphasis on advanced areas or subjects that often lead to accidents, 
injuries, or non-compliance. For example, experienced employees would 
benefit from refresher training that identifies those behaviors that 
often lead to accidents/incidents or close calls. Refresher training 
may also address systemic performance gaps, or possible substantive 
amendments to existing regulations. FRA expects that by conducting 
periodic oversight under Sec.  243.205 and the annual review in Sec.  
243.207, employers will be gathering significant information that will 
help them design refresher training that is data driven to close 
knowledge or performance gaps. However, FRA certainly would not take 
exception to refresher training that is identical to an initial 
training course on the same subject.
    Although not raised by the comments, FRA considered whether 
employees should be allowed to test out of refresher training. The 
concept is that experienced employees would demonstrate their knowledge 
and perform a sufficient number of tasks so that the employer could 
determine that refresher training is unnecessary. FRA did not consider 
a test out option to be viable for several reasons. One, Congress's 
mandate that the training regulation include requirements for ``ongoing 
training'' did not contemplate a testing out option, and so FRA is 
concerned that such an option would conflict with the statutory 
mandate. Two, as explained in the previous paragraph, refresher 
training is expected to be data driven and applied systemically. If 
individuals could test out, the effectiveness of the final rule could 
be diminished. Three, even experienced employees may need refresher 
training to help them better understand rules or tasks that are not 
conducted often. Four, there may also be more than one way to do a 
task, and sharing that information during a mandatory refresher 
training class could make the employee more efficient or aware of 
additional options. Five, experienced employees, taking training with 
other experienced employees, may be more reluctant than employees new 
to an occupational category to ask questions clarifying how to properly 
conduct certain tasks considered routine. The data-driven refresher 
training provides critical information to all participating employees 
thereby reducing the need for individualized refresher training 
programs.
    FRA also did not receive comments challenging the minimum three-
year cycle for refresher training, even though FRA raised the issue 
during the RSAC Working Group's meetings and in the NPRM. 77 FR at 
6436. The reason the three year refresher cycle probably was not 
challenged is that it has become a railroad industry standard, except 
where refresher training is required more frequently. FRA has some 
refresher training requirements in its railroad safety regulations that 
are more stringent than every three years, and in Sec. Sec.  243.1(c) 
and 243.201(e) it is made clear that compliance with those more 
stringent refresher training cycles is still required. In promulgating 
this final rule,

[[Page 66470]]

FRA has accepted the RSAC's recommendation that a three year refresher 
cycle is acceptable to the industry and is beneficial to employees.
    FRA has added a definition of refresher training to the final rule, 
based on the definition in 49 CFR 238.5, to further address the 
commenter's concerns. That definition is explained in the section-by-
section analysis to Sec.  243.5

L. Waivers

    In the NPRM, FRA included a proposed section explaining how a 
person may petition the Administrator for a waiver of compliance with 
any requirement of this part. Meanwhile, FRA stated in the section-by-
section analysis that ``this section may be unnecessary because 49 CFR 
part 211 sufficiently addresses the waiver process.'' 77 FR 6425. FRA 
requested comments on whether the proposed waiver section should be 
removed and FRA received several comments, all in support of removing 
the waiver provision. The commenters frequently cited that the waiver 
provision should be removed as unnecessary and to reduce confusion. 
Furthermore, the Working Group reached agreement to delete the waiver 
section from this rule during its post-comment period meeting.
FRA's Response
    FRA agrees with the commenters and the Working Group. The 
procedures for petitioning for a waiver do not depend on the inclusion 
of a waiver provision in this part. Instead, the procedures are found 
in 49 CFR part 211. Thus, the proposed waiver section is redundant and 
can be removed without any impact to any person who may wish to 
petition the Administrator for a waiver. Thus, FRA is removing the 
proposed section related to waivers in this final rule.

M. Employees Charged With Inspection of Track or Railroad Equipment

    In the preamble to the NPRM, FRA requested comments regarding 
whether the proposed rule adequately covers the specific statutory 
requirement related to employees charged with the inspection of track 
or railroad equipment found at 49 U.S.C. 20162(a)(3), or whether the 
regulatory text needs to be more explicit in the final rule. In that 
regard, FRA explained that it was considering whether language that 
mirrors the statutory requirement related to employees charged with the 
inspection of track or railroad equipment should be added as paragraph 
(c)(6) to proposed Sec.  243.101 so that it would be one of the 
specific requirements necessary for each employer's training program. 
The joint labor comment supports adding the statutory requirement in 49 
U.S.C. 20162(a)(3) to Sec.  243.101, while the NRC opposes it.
    Separately, FRA also explained that it was considering whether the 
proposed regulatory language requiring periodic oversight and annual 
review should be expanded to directly address those employees 
inspecting track and railroad equipment. Currently, the oversight and 
review provisions are only applicable to determine if safety-related 
railroad employees are complying with Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and work 
group safety. NRC opposes an expansion of periodic oversight and annual 
review to address these types of employees explicitly.
FRA's Response
    Upon further review of the statute and the comments, FRA has 
concluded that it is unnecessary to add a paragraph (c)(6) to Sec.  
243.101 to cover employees charged with the inspection of track or 
railroad equipment. This rule meets the statutory mandate found in 49 
U.S.C. 20162(a)(3) by requiring that each employer of one or more 
safety-related railroad employee, whether the employer is a railroad, 
contractor, or subcontractor, be required to train and qualify each 
such employee on the Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and 
orders that the employee is required to comply with, as well as any 
relevant railroad rules and procedures promulgated to implement those 
Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders. See Sec. Sec.  
243.1(a) and 243.201. Employees charged with the inspection of track or 
railroad equipment are considered safety-related railroad employees 
that each employer must train and qualify. The rule at Sec.  243.5 
defines safety-related railroad employee to specifically include an 
individual who is engaged or compensated by an employer to ``(3) In the 
application of parts 213 and 214 of this chapter, inspect . . . track; 
(4) Inspect . . . locomotives, passenger cars or freight cars; (5) 
Inspect . . . other railroad on-track equipment when such equipment is 
in a service that constitutes a train movement under part 232 of this 
chapter; [and] (6) Determine that an on-track roadway maintenance 
machine or hi-rail vehicle may be used in accordance with part 214, 
subpart D of this chapter, without repair of a non-complying 
condition.''
    The final rule also requires that the training program developed by 
each employer be submitted to FRA for approval. See Sec.  243.109. In 
order to be approved, each employer must address in its program how it 
will train those employees charged with the inspection of track or 
railroad equipment to identify defective conditions and initiate 
immediate remedial action to correct critical safety defects that are 
known to contribute to derailments, accidents, incidents, or injuries. 
FRA would reject a program that fails to adequately address training 
for those employees charged with the inspection of track or railroad 
equipment.
    The formal training for employees responsible for inspecting track 
and railroad equipment is expected to cover all aspects of their duties 
related to complying with the Federal standards. FRA would expect that 
the training programs and courses for such employees would include 
techniques for identifying defective conditions and would address what 
sort of immediate remedial actions need to be initiated to correct 
critical safety defects that are known to contribute to derailments, 
accidents, incidents, or injuries. FRA would also expect that the 
statutorily mandated refresher training address these issues and any 
other areas that may warrant particular focus.
    Finally, after further consideration, FRA has decided not to expand 
periodic oversight and annual review to directly address those 
employees inspecting track and railroad equipment. Safety-related 
railroad employees inspecting track and railroad equipment will be 
subjected to oversight to the extent that their duties are necessary to 
comply with Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders 
particular to FRA-regulated personal and work group safety. At this 
time, FRA does not recognize a need to expand periodic oversight or the 
annual review to address these types of employees explicitly. Of 
course, if FRA determines at a later date that such additional periodic 
oversight or annual review would be worthwhile, FRA could initiate a 
rulemaking to amend this part.

N. Employees Charged With Inspection of Railroad Bridges

    The joint labor comment recommends that FRA add a paragraph, i.e., 
Sec.  243.101(c)(6), that would be applicable to those employees 
charged with the inspection of railroad bridges including specific 
training requirements for employees charged with the inspection of 
track, railroad equipment, and bridges in the final rule to address 
issues such as the type, frequency, and scope of training and refresher 
training. In addition, the joint labor comment requests that FRA amend 
item (3) in the definition of ``safety-related railroad

[[Page 66471]]

employee'' so that it references more CFR parts, specifically parts 
234, 236, and 237. Furthermore, the joint labor comment raises a 
concern that the NPRM does not explicitly include safety-related 
functions performed in relation to the inspection of roadway 
maintenance machines and hi-rail vehicles under 49 CFR part 214, 
subpart D.
FRA's Response
    It is unnecessary for FRA to require specific training requirements 
for any category of safety-related railroad employee because each 
employer will be defining each category or subcategory of employee and 
thus, each employer will be best situated to determine what training 
those categories of employees should receive. In order to follow the 
joint labor organization's recommendation, the rule would need to be 
extensively rewritten so that it would take away the flexibility 
provided to each employer to individually define its categories of 
employees. FRA is unwilling to follow this suggestion as it would 
substantially increase the costs of implementing the rule for each 
employer and would force upon the industry a one-size fits all solution 
that would create many implementation challenges for employers.
    It is also unnecessary to address issues such as the type, 
frequency, and scope of training and refresher training as the joint 
labor comment advocates because the final rule already addresses those 
issues. At a minimum, each newly hired safety-related railroad employee 
will be provided with initial training, and refresher training every 
three years. See 243.201(c). Experienced employees may be exempt from 
initial training, but will still be required to complete refresher 
training every three years. See 243.201(e).
    FRA also rejects the comment that the final rule should reference 
more CFR parts in the definition of safety-related railroad employee. 
That definition is not intended to include a recitation of all the 
Federal laws, regulations, or orders that may apply to any particular 
safety-related railroad employee covered by this rule. Adding some 
cross-referencing parts, and not others, has no effect on whether those 
Federal regulations must be covered in training. The reason FRA added 
the phrase ``in the application of parts 213 and 214 of this chapter'' 
to item (3) of the definition was to refine the statutory definition of 
safety-related railroad employee which broadly includes the types of 
employees that the industry recognizes as responsible for 
``maintain[ing] the right of way of a railroad.'' 49 U.S.C. 
20102(4)(C). FRA and RSAC agreed that the statutory definition could be 
confusing if repeated in the regulation. Thus, FRA agreed with the RSAC 
recommendation to define those employees who maintain the right of way 
of a railroad in the regulatory definition.
    The joint labor comment raises the concern that 49 CFR part 237, 
which covers ``Bridge Safety Standards,'' might not be covered under 
this rule. BMWED elaborated during the Working Group meeting to discuss 
the comments received in response to the NPRM that part 237 is a new 
regulation that was not contemplated by the RSIA. Hence, BMWED's 
concern is that this new training regulation might not cover part 237 
without specifically citing it. However, as part 237 is an FRA 
regulation and there is no exemption in this rule that applies, the 
concern appears unfounded. In other words, as FRA clarified at the 
Working Group meeting, this final rule applies to training on any FRA 
regulations as of the effective date of this rule and into the future, 
not only those FRA regulations that are in effect as of the date of 
this rule, or as of the implementation date of the RSIA.
    Meanwhile, FRA is aware that a person reading this rule might be 
persuaded to interpret that an employer would be required to adopt and 
comply with a training program to satisfy certain training requirements 
of 49 CFR part 237 that could not realistically be supported by an 
employer's training program because such training could only reasonably 
be afforded by a training organization or learning institution. For 
example, the rule does not require railroad bridge engineers to receive 
``in-house'' training when an engineering degree is what is required by 
Sec.  237.51(b). This rulemaking also does not change the bridge 
owner's authority under 49 CFR part 237 to determine whether the 
railroad bridge engineers, inspectors, and supervisors are technically 
competent. Training on 49 CFR part 237, subpart E--Bridge Inspection is 
required under this rule. A railroad bridge engineer, inspector, or 
supervisor would need to be trained on roadway worker protection 
requirements pursuant to this rule and 49 CFR part 214. So, no 
amendment to the proposal is necessary as these individuals are covered 
by the final rule, and employers will need to submit plans explaining 
how training will be provided and what Federal laws, regulations, and 
orders will be covered during the training for each category of 
employee.
    FRA disagrees with the statement in the joint labor comment that 
raises a concern that the NPRM ``does not explicitly include safety-
related functions performed in relation to the inspection of roadway 
maintenance machines and hi-rail vehicles under 49 CFR part 214, 
subpart D.'' The definition of safety-related railroad employee at item 
(6) specifically includes an individual that determines that an on-
track roadway maintenance machine or hi-rail vehicle may be used in 
accordance with part 214, subpart D of this chapter, without repair of 
a non-complying condition. Thus, a person who makes this inspection and 
determination that equipment is safe to use is required by this final 
rule to be trained to detect non-complying conditions.

O. Joint Ventures

    One commenter notes that the NPRM did not address joint venture 
companies and raises concerns regarding how FRA would determine 
compliance for these joint ventures. NRC requests that FRA allow 
flexibility in how these joint venture companies meet the regulatory 
requirements: by the original participant companies, under the auspices 
of one lead participant company, or under the joint venture itself. NRC 
also suggests that proposed Sec.  243.101(b) could pose difficulties 
for joint ventures, or any company that forms quickly and wishes to 
start business soon after forming. NRC recommended that start-ups and 
joint ventures should be allowed to use employees for up to one year to 
perform safety-related duties without designating those employees in 
accordance with a training program filed with FRA.
    NRC's comment was discussed at the Working Group meeting held after 
the comment period closed. During that meeting, the Working Group 
reached agreement that the final rule should not require employers to 
designate employees under Sec.  243.201 until 30 days prior to the 
start of the program.
FRA's Response
    NRC's comments regarding joint ventures raise some valid concerns. 
The NPRM did not address any issues related to joint ventures. 
Furthermore, FRA did not foresee that proposed Sec.  243.101(b) could 
pose difficulties for joint ventures or start-up companies. The changes 
FRA made to the proposal that are found in this final rule reflect 
FRA's considerations of wanting to provide equal treatment to existing 
companies and new companies, while ensuring that new ventures and new 
companies begin operations with safety-

[[Page 66472]]

related railroad employees that are properly trained.
    NRC's comment asks which entity involved in the joint venture is 
the party responsible for compliance with the rule, because the NPRM 
was silent on this issue. FRA has decided that the final rule should 
remain silent on the issue because it is unnecessary for the regulatory 
text to assign responsibility. Parties to a joint venture should 
understand that compliance is mandatory and the participants in the 
joint venture are obligated to ensure that compliance is achieved. No 
changes were made in this final rule to delineate which entities 
involved in a joint venture are responsible for training as FRA would 
determine that all the entities involved would be responsible for 
compliance, unless the joint venture agreement specifies the 
responsibilities of each party. This approach permits the maximum 
flexibility to each entity participating in the joint venture or 
created by the joint venture.
    A different, but related, question may be how does FRA intend to 
enforce the final rule against multiple companies that form a joint 
venture. From an enforcement perspective, FRA would likely first 
consider an employer responsible for training its employees that the 
employer contributes to the joint venture, unless the joint venture 
agreement states otherwise. Likewise, the employer responsible for 
training would be expected to maintain the records for that employee. 
Although NRC suggests that the parties to the joint venture could agree 
to assign the responsibility for training and compliance under this 
rule to the lead participant company or the shell company formed by the 
joint venture, FRA warns that it will not tolerate the forming of shell 
companies that accept responsibility for compliance with the final rule 
but do not actually perform any of the duties necessary for compliance. 
If FRA discovers training compliance failures under the final rule and 
that the parties to a joint venture agreement are unresponsive to their 
regulatory responsibilities, FRA will consider all available means of 
enforcement to achieve compliance.
    With regard to NRC's concerns regarding Sec.  243.101(b), FRA 
agrees that the proposed rule did not adequately address the 
difficulties of compliance that start-ups and joint ventures could 
face. The proposed requirement that the program be submitted at least 
90 days prior to commencing operations has been removed. In addition, 
FRA has removed the proposed requirement that the employer wait for FRA 
to approve the program prior to adopting and complying with it. 
Instead, the final rule requires that the employer adopt and comply 
with its submitted training program no later than upon the commencement 
of operations, as long as commencement begins on or after January 1, 
2018.
    This requirement relieves a start-up or joint venture from filing a 
program at least 90 days prior to commencing operations, but means 
that, upon commencing operations, the employer's training must be 
complete for any safety-related railroad employees, designated by 
occupational category or subcategory, who are working. See Sec.  
243.201(b). Prior to this final rule, railroads are already required to 
ensure proper training techniques prior to commencing their operations. 
Therefore, this rule should not create barriers to entry nor delays in 
starting new operations. More so, new railroads would have access to 
model training programs and best-in-class training practices. 
Therefore, they should be able to use their own human resources more 
efficiently for training purposes and possibly expedite entry into 
market.
    As FRA explains in the section-by-section analysis, FRA does not 
agree that start-ups and joint ventures should be allowed to use 
employees for up to one year to perform safety-related duties without 
designating those employees in accordance with a training program filed 
with FRA. There is no basis to support the position that start-ups and 
joint ventures deserve more flexibility than other employers. In 
addition, such a loophole could create a class of untrained employees 
that circumvents the purpose of the rule.
    Furthermore, FRA has rejected the Working Group's recommendation 
that the rule should not require employers to designate employees under 
Sec.  243.201 until 30 days prior to the start of the program. FRA 
believes the Working Group members may not have realized that they were 
agreeing to a much more stringent restriction than FRA proposed in the 
NPRM. For an employer commencing operations after January 1, 2017, 
under Sec.  243.201(b), FRA has not specified an amount of time prior 
to beginning operations that the employer has to designate employees, 
only that the employer declare the designation of each of its existing 
safety-related railroad employees by occupational category or 
subcategory prior to beginning operations. That aspect of the final 
rule is carried over from the NPRM because requiring new employers to 
designate employees 30 or 90 days prior to commencing operations is 
unlikely to ensure the employees are qualified to do the safety-related 
work. Instead, existing aspects of FRA's operations are better designed 
to check whether railroad safety would be detrimentally impacted. For 
instance, FRA routinely conducts inspections, audits, and other 
oversight of new railroads to identify safety concerns, and frequently 
makes contact with employers prior to the commencing of operations. If 
FRA discovered that employees were unqualified to perform safety-
related duties, FRA would generally be in a position to take immediate 
action prior to operations commencing or within a short period after 
initial start-up. FRA could exercise its enforcement authority to bring 
about compliance. Thus, FRA's oversight of new operations can address 
the safety concerns that employees are untrained or not properly 
designated without placing a restriction on the speed at which joint 
ventures or businesses of any size can enter the field of railroading.

P. Requests for Confidential Treatment of Programs

    In the NPRM, FRA requested comments on whether the rule should 
address the submission of proprietary materials or other materials that 
an entity wishes to keep confidential. FRA raised the issue in the 
context of the electronic submission process found in Sec.  243.113. 
FRA suggested that it could develop a secure document submission site 
so that confidential materials are identified and not shared with the 
general public. However, FRA sought comments on the issue because the 
agency questioned whether that extra step would be necessary.
    AAR filed the only comment on this issue. In the comment, AAR 
agrees that it is unlikely that confidential material will be 
submitted. However, AAR states that it is likely that proprietary 
(copyrighted) material will be submitted. AAR recommends that FRA 
ensure that in making such material public, it includes copyright 
notices and warns the public against copying or other unauthorized use 
of such material.
FRA's Response
    In the NPRM, FRA explained that the agency did not expect the 
information in a program to be of a confidential or proprietary nature. 
For instance, each railroad is expected to share the program 
submission, resubmission, or informational filing with the president of 
each labor organization that represents the railroad's employees 
subject to this part. See Sec.  243.109(d). FRA's expectation is that a 
railroad would remove any information that it wished to keep private 
prior to sharing that program material with a labor

[[Page 66473]]

organization. In the NPRM, FRA suggested that entities consider this 
concern when drafting any programmatic material to be submitted to FRA 
and that each entity takes its own steps not to share such private 
material with FRA. In that way, FRA may make such programmatic material 
available to the general public upon request.
    In addition to the suggestions made in the NPRM for keeping 
information confidential, FRA notes that the agency's railroad safety 
enforcement procedures address requests for confidential treatment at 
49 CFR 209.11. The procedures in that section place the burden on the 
party requesting confidential treatment with respect to a document or 
portion thereof. For example, according to paragraph (c) of that 
section, a railroad that wants confidential treatment is required to 
provide a statement at the time of filing justifying nondisclosure and 
referring to the specific legal authority claimed. Paragraph (e) of 
that section explains that FRA retains the right to make its own 
determination with regard to any claim of confidentiality.
    FRA is concerned that a party requesting confidential treatment of 
a document, or including a copyright notice on a portion of a program 
submission, may be asking for treatment that could interfere with FRA's 
safety enforcement program. For this reason, in addition to FRA's 
procedures in 49 CFR 209.11, a party requesting confidential treatment 
should provide a detailed explanation for how the party expects FRA to 
treat the document. In requesting confidential treatment, the party 
should consider several aspects of FRA's safety enforcement program. 
For instance, a party should understand that FRA intends to share the 
program with the State agencies that FRA partners with in accordance 
with 49 CFR part 212. It is typically understood that a party has 
consented to all electronic and written dissemination of a submitted 
program for any investigative and compliance purposes envisioned 
pursuant to the FRA regulations or FRA's statutory enforcement 
authority. See 49 CFR 209.11(a). Likewise, program submissions would 
normally be subject to the mandatory disclosure requirements of the 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552) and thus a party that 
has a copyright notice on the program submission will need to specify 
which statutory exemption it believes is applicable. Again, FRA retains 
the right to make its own determination with regard to any claim of 
confidentiality, including whether an exemption to mandatory disclosure 
requirements under FOIA are applicable. If FRA decides to deny a claim 
of confidentiality, FRA is required to provide notice and an 
opportunity to respond no less than five days prior to the public 
disclosure. 49 CFR 209.11(e).

Q. Computer and Simulator-Based Instruction

    The joint labor comment requests that FRA clarify that the use of 
computer and simulator-based instruction be deployed for training 
purposes rather than for examination or qualification purposes. The 
comment implies that new and unproven training technologies could be 
utilized and could lead to disciplinary action when an employee fails 
to pass the training. The commenters strongly urge FRA to eliminate 
such practices in the final rule. This comment was further developed 
during the Working Group meeting in which the comments were discussed. 
BRS clarified that it would not want an employee to be qualified solely 
from computer-based training, as it is essential to be trained on the 
actual equipment that an employee will be required to maintain. UTU 
stated that there are field tests for employees who fail simulator 
tests.
FRA's Response
    The final rule defines formal training and FRA accepts that formal 
training can be delivered in many different ways. In the NPRM, FRA 
recognized that classroom training is preferred by some employees over 
any other type of training. However, classroom training is not the only 
type of training that can be effective and FRA has no intention of 
severely limiting the methods of delivering formal training.
    Although FRA is not changing the proposed rule based on this 
comment, the joint labor comment does raise some important issues that 
each employer should contemplate when drafting and implementing a 
training program. One issue is whether the training is effective given 
the target employee audience. If an employee lacks familiarity with 
computers or simulators, an employer should consider whether the method 
of delivery is appropriate. An employee may be able to do the actual 
task and understand the underlying rules being tested without being 
able to pass a computer or simulator-based test.
    Furthermore, nowhere in the proposed rule or this final rule does 
FRA require an employer to discipline an employee for failing to pass 
training. Likewise, the rule does not prohibit an employer from taking 
disciplinary action. FRA encourages employers to provide employees with 
sufficient training and testing opportunities, and to retrain and 
retest whenever there is a need. If a computer or simulator-based 
training leads to an employee's failure to qualify on a subject, the 
employer should take into account whether any technological issues 
potentially contributed to the failure. The final rule does not 
prohibit the employer from providing further opportunities for training 
or testing for any reason or no reason at all. Further opportunities 
for training or testing may include other types of formal training or 
other types of acceptable testing in accordance with the training 
program. An employer should consider building in some flexibility in 
its program to address exceptions to its normal training program. Of 
course, if FRA learns that the technology is contributing to training 
or testing failures, the agency will consider whether any enforcement 
action is warranted or whether a rulemaking should be initiated to 
revisit the issue.

R. FRA's Qualifications To Review Training Programs

    One commenter questions whether FRA employs individuals with 
teaching credentials to evaluate whether training components satisfy 
the educational standards used for effective teaching.
FRA's Response
    FRA employs personnel who train other FRA employees. Each in-house 
FRA trainer must earn a professional certification for trainers at the 
``Master Trainer'' level, if not otherwise credentialed to teach. Thus, 
FRA's in-house trainers are both qualified in teaching methods and in 
various aspects of railroading. These in-house trainers have been, and 
continue to be, instrumental in FRA's development of the interim final 
compliance guide. For these reasons, the FRA personnel that will be 
reviewing training programs for educational sufficiency have the 
requisite background to effectively review each training component, or 
oversee other FRA personnel who can assist with program review.

S. Compliance Guide

    One commenter suggested that FRA ``issue a compliance guide, 
specifically to railroads that have 15 or less safety-related railroad 
employees, (as contemplated in 49 CFR part 209, appendix C) and then 
delay the implementation of the proposed rule to these smallest 
railroads for one year after the compliance guide is made available to 
these smallest railroads.''

[[Page 66474]]

FRA's Response
    As FRA is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis (see VII, B. of this rule titled ``Regulatory Flexibility Act 
and Executive Order 13272; Final Regulatory Flexibility Assessment''), 
FRA is also required under sec. 212 of the Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), to publish one or more guides to 
assist small entities in complying with the final rule. FRA intends to 
publish an interim final compliance guide early in 2015. By 
characterizing the guidance as ``interim final,'' the guidance will be 
effective immediately, but signal that FRA is willing to consider 
amending the guidance based on comments received. Consequently, FRA 
will provide a 60-day comment period and intends to issue a notice for 
the final guidance by no later than one year from the date of issuance 
of the interim final guidance. FRA also amended the proposal so that 
small entities will have at least four years from the date of issuance 
of the interim final compliance guide to implement a training program 
under Sec.  243.101(a)(2) and at least four years and eight months from 
the date of issuance of the interim final compliance guide to designate 
existing employees under Sec.  243.201(a)(2). That schedule for 
publication of a compliance guide should also benefit model program 
developers who will want to reference the guide in their attempt to 
meet the May 1, 2017 submission deadline in Sec.  243.105(a)(3).
    FRA's compliance guide is intended to aid employers by providing 
the task inventories that provide the foundation of the OJT program. 
The compliance guide can be used by all employers, but will be written 
with a primary emphasis on assisting small entities. The task 
inventories will be presented in a format that is highly respected in 
the adult training community, and will be modeled after training 
formats FRA's master trainers use to train FRA personnel. The guide 
will address each major type of safety-related railroad employee 
category. It will explain the roles and responsibilities for those 
administering the program, as well as the trainees and trainers. Duties 
will be identified by the performance task that the employee is 
supposed to be able to do. The guide will help identify the preparation 
that trainers will have to take in order to make sure that the 
conditions are conducive for learning. For example, trainers will 
ensure that trainees have all the tools, equipment, and documents 
needed to practice the task. Furthermore, the guide will help establish 
standards for establishing when a trainee has demonstrated proficiency. 
Such standards are generally based on repetition, the completeness, and 
the percentage of accuracy. These factors for establishing standards 
will be driven by the complexity of the related task.
    Thus, FRA has addressed this commenter's concern by agreeing to 
publish a compliance guide and delaying implementation for small 
entities so that the small entities will have at least four years to 
consider the agency's guidance prior to the deadline for program 
submission.

VI. Section-by-Section Analysis

Part 214

    FRA received three comments regarding the proposed amendments to 
this part. Two of the commenters, AAR and APTA, support the amendments 
without recommending any changes from the proposal. The joint labor 
comment supported the overall direction of the amendments, and included 
a recommendation to expand this regulation to address the myriad of 
crane safety issues which fall outside the scope of roadway worker 
protection and the on-track safety programs specified in part 214, 
subpart C. For this reason, the joint labor comment requested that the 
crane operator qualification and certification requirements be moved to 
a new subpart within part 214.
    In the NPRM, FRA explained that on August 9, 2010, the U.S. 
Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration 
(OSHA) published a final rule regarding ``Cranes and Derricks in 
Construction'' (Final Crane Rule, 75 FR 47906) and how it may be very 
difficult or unnecessarily burdensome for the railroad industry to 
comply with the crane operator certification requirements provided for 
in OSHA's regulation. In accordance with Executive Order 13563, 
``Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,'' which requires 
``[g]reater coordination across agencies'' to produce simplification 
and harmonization of rules, FRA has coordinated with OSHA to maintain 
an equivalent level of safety in replacing OSHA's training and 
certification requirements for operators of roadway maintenance 
machines equipped with a crane who work in the railroad environment.
    Although the railroad industry uses many different types of cranes, 
nearly all of the cranes utilized by railroads are used to support 
railroad operations and would fall within what FRA refers to as 
``roadway maintenance machines.'' FRA's ``Railroad Workplace Safety'' 
regulation, found at 49 CFR part 214, defines roadway maintenance 
machine as ``a device powered by any means of energy other than hand 
power which is being used on or near railroad track for maintenance, 
repair, construction or inspection of track, bridges, roadway, signal, 
communications, or electric traction systems. Roadway maintenance 
machines may have road or rail wheels or may be stationary.'' 49 CFR 
214.7. FRA already requires some training for crane operators that is 
related to roadway worker safety, although, prior to this rule, FRA did 
not require operator certification. See 49 CFR 214.341 and 214.355.
    As FRA is promulgating a new regulation (part 243) in this notice 
to address training standards for all safety-related railroad 
employees, FRA is solidly situated to require a viable training 
alternative to OSHA's certification options for certain crane operators 
in the railroad industry. In particular, FRA is especially well-suited 
to address the training and qualification requirement for operators of 
roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane. This final rule 
contains various requirements for each employer of a safety-related 
railroad employee, which would include employers of one or more 
operators of roadway maintenance machines that are equipped with a 
crane, to submit a training program that explains in detail how each 
type of employee will be trained and qualified. However, new part 243 
is only intended to cover training of Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders and those railroad rules and procedures 
promulgated to implement those Federal requirements. Consequently, FRA 
is adding a new Sec.  214.357 to existing part 214 which includes 
training and qualification requirements for operators of roadway 
maintenance machines equipped with a crane. The details of those 
requirements are addressed below in the analysis for that particular 
section.

Section 214.7 Definitions

    The final rule would add a definition for roadway maintenance 
machines equipped with a crane in order to address the term's use in 
Sec.  214.357. The definition of this term would mean any roadway 
maintenance machine equipped with a crane or boom that can hoist, 
lower, and horizontally move a suspended load.

Section 214.341 Roadway Maintenance Machines

    FRA is amending paragraph (b)(2) to address two issues. First, FRA 
is

[[Page 66475]]

removing the requirement that the operator of a roadway maintenance 
machine have ``complete'' knowledge of the safety instructions 
applicable to that machine. Based on feedback received from the 
regulated community, FRA has been informed that requiring that the 
knowledge be ``complete'' suggests that a roadway worker operator have 
instant recall of every instruction contained in the manual. This 
reading of the rule is not FRA's intention. FRA intends each operator 
to have sufficient knowledge of the safety instructions so that the 
operator would be able to safely operate the machine without reference 
to the manual under routine conditions, and know where in the manual to 
look for guidance when operation of the machine is not routine.
    The second change to paragraph (b)(2) addresses what is meant by 
``knowledge of the safety instructions applicable to that machine.'' 
FRA's intent is that this term means the manufacturer's instruction 
manual for that machine. However, it has come to FRA's attention that 
some portion(s) of a manufacturer's instruction manual may not be 
applicable to a particular machine if the machine has been adapted for 
a specific railroad use. In that case, FRA requires that the employer 
have a duty to ensure that such instructions be amended or supplemented 
so that they shall address all aspects of the safe operation of the 
crane and be as comprehensive as the manufacturer's safety instructions 
they replace. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the 
safety instructions provided address all known safety concerns related 
to the operation of the machine. If some type of functionality is added 
to the machine through adaption, the safety instructions would need to 
address the known safety concerns and proper operation of that 
additional function. On the other hand, if the adaption removes an 
operational functionality, the safety instructions would no longer need 
to address the function that was removed, although it could be possible 
that the removal of a device could create other safety hazards that may 
need to be addressed in the safety instructions in order to be 
considered comprehensive. In order to ensure that the safety 
instructions for a machine are comprehensive, some employers may choose 
to provide a completely new safety instruction manual for adapted 
equipment; however, other employers may choose to simply void certain 
pages or chapters of the manufacturer's manual, and provide a 
supplemental manual to address the safety instructions related to the 
adapted functions of the equipment.

Sec.  214.357 Training and Qualification for Operators of Roadway 
Maintenance Machines Equipped With a Crane

    As mentioned previously, FRA is amending this section in order to 
ensure that each railroad or contractor (or subcontractor) to a 
railroad ensures that operators of roadway maintenance machines 
equipped with a crane are adequately trained to ensure their vehicles 
are safely operated. The training requirements are intended to address 
both safe movement of the vehicles and safe operation of the cranes. 
Once this rule is effective, FRA regulations would apply to operators 
of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane, rather than 
OSHA's regulation related to crane operator qualification and 
certification found at 29 CFR 1926.1427.
    Paragraph (a) clarifies that this section requires new training 
requirements in addition to the existing requirements already contained 
in this subpart. Paragraph (a) also includes a requirement that each 
employer adopt and comply with a training and qualification program for 
operators of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane to 
ensure the safe operation of such machines. The requirement in 
paragraph (a) to ``adopt'' and ``comply'' with a training and 
qualification program may seem redundant; however, the use of these 
terms together are intended to remind each employer that it will need 
to both ``adopt'' such a program and ``comply'' with its own program. 
Failure to adopt or comply with a program required by this section will 
be considered a failure to comply with this section.
    Paragraph (b) requires that each employer's training and 
qualification program address initial and periodic qualification for 
each operator of a roadway maintenance machine equipped with a crane. 
Both initial training and periodic refresher training must, at a 
minimum, include certain procedures for addressing critical safety 
areas. Paragraph (b)(1) requires that each employer develop procedures 
for determining that the operator has the skills to safely operate each 
machine the person is authorized to operate. FRA would expect that 
those procedures would include demonstrated proficiency as observed by 
a qualified instructor or supervisor. Paragraph (b)(2) requires that 
each employer develop procedures for determining that the operator has 
the knowledge to safely operate each machine the person is authorized 
to operate. As explained in the analysis of the amendments to Sec.  
214.341(b)(2), an operator must have knowledge of the safety 
instructions applicable to that machine, regardless of whether the 
machine has been adapted for a particular railroad use. Implicit in 
this rule is the requirement that the employer must supply the safety 
instructions for the crane. If the crane has been adapted for a 
specific use, the employer must ensure that the safety instructions are 
also adapted. FRA would expect the employer to employ or contract out 
for a qualified person to adapt the safety instructions, but in any 
case the employer is responsible for ensuring that the instructions 
address all aspects of the safe operation of the crane. When equipment 
has been adapted, the employer has a duty to provide revised safety 
instructions that comprehensively address each adapted feature as well 
as any feature supplied by the manufacturer that was not removed during 
the adaptation.
    Paragraph (c) requires that each employer maintain records that 
form the basis of the training and qualification determinations of each 
operator of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane that it 
employs. This requirement repeats the requirement contained in Sec.  
243.203 to maintain records. However, it is useful to repeat the 
requirement as a reminder to employers. In repeating this requirement, 
FRA does not intend the requirement to cause an employer to duplicate 
records kept in accordance with proposed part 243. Similarly, paragraph 
(d) requires that each employer is required to make all records 
available for inspection and copying/photocopying to representatives of 
FRA, upon request during normal business hours, as is also required in 
part 243.
    In paragraph (e), FRA permits training conducted by an employer in 
accordance with operator qualification and certification required by 
the Department of Labor (29 CFR 1926.1427) to be used to satisfy the 
training and qualification requirements of this section. The purpose of 
this paragraph is to allow an employer to choose to train and certify 
an employee in accordance with OSHA's Final Crane Rule and opt out of 
the other proposed requirements of this section for that employee. As 
explained in the introductory analysis to part 214 in the NPRM, if the 
crane equipment is modified for railroad operations there may not be an 
accredited crane operator testing organization that could certify the 
operator in accordance with OSHA's Final Crane Rule. 29 CFR 
1926.1427(b). However, there are some roadway maintenance machines 
equipped with a crane that are considered standard construction 
equipment and thus it

[[Page 66476]]

would be possible to certify operators of that equipment through such 
an accredited organization. For this reason, FRA does not want to 
preclude the option for a person to be trained by the accredited 
organization and meet OSHA's requirements in lieu of FRA's 
requirements. Similarly, FRA envisions that some railroads or employers 
may employ some operators on roadway maintenance machines equipped with 
a crane who could be used exclusively within State or local 
jurisdictions in which the operators are licensed. Under those 
circumstances, the operator would be in compliance with OSHA's fourth 
option for certifying crane operators as it permits the licensing of 
such operators by a government entity. 29 CFR 1926.1427(e). FRA has no 
objection to the use of crane operators who meet OSHA's requirements 
and does not intend, by the addition of this section, to impose any 
additional regulatory requirements on such operators. Although the 
purpose of this section is to provide an alternative method of training 
and qualification that is tailored to the unique circumstances faced by 
most operators of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane 
working for the railroad industry, the purpose of paragraph (e) is to 
permit an employer to opt out of the alternative FRA requirements as 
long as the operator has met OSHA's training and certification 
requirements.

Part 232

Section 232.203 Training Requirements

    FRA modeled some aspects of this final rule related to part 243 
after the training requirements found in this section. Meanwhile, when 
reviewing this section, FRA discovered that several minor corrections 
to the section are necessary. The minor corrections were described in 
the NPRM and FRA did not receive any comments regarding them or 
objecting to their adoption. 77 FR 6420, 6453. As this portion of the 
final rule is identical to the proposed version, the analysis provided 
for in the NPRM is not being repeated here.

Part 243

Subpart A--General

Section 243.1 Purpose and Scope

    In response to comments received in response to the NPRM, some 
minor edits have been made to paragraph (a) and paragraph (e) of this 
section. FRA has not repeated the analysis contained in the NPRM for 
those paragraphs that remain the same as in the proposal. 77 FR 6420-
21. The comments received regarding this specific section are addressed 
here.
    As previously explained in the supplementary information, FRA is 
required by RSIA to address minimum training standards for safety-
related railroad employees. Paragraph (a) is consistent with the 
specific statutory language and captures Congress' intent to ensure 
that any person doing work covered by the Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders, regardless of whether the person is employed 
by a railroad or a contractor, is properly trained and qualified. This 
regulation meets the statutory requirement as it intends to cover each 
employee that does work required by a Federal mandate, regardless of 
the employer.
    Paragraph (a) provides the scope of the training required by this 
final rule. FRA is only requiring training for an employee to the 
extent that the employee is required to comply with a Federal mandate. 
Furthermore, the training that is required by this part is limited to 
any training necessary to ensure that the employee is qualified to 
comply with all Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders 
that would be applicable to the work the employee would be expected to 
perform. Thus, an employer that chooses to train employees on issues 
other than those covered by Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, 
and orders would not need to submit such training to FRA for review and 
approval in accordance with this part.
    Given the limited scope of this rule, not every person that works 
on a railroad's property should expect that this rule will require that 
an employer provide that person with training. Some employees of a 
railroad or a contractor of a railroad may do work that has a safety 
nexus but is not required by any Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, or orders. For example, a person may be hired to clean 
passenger rail cars by a railroad's maintenance division for other than 
safety purposes. However, as there are no Federal requirements related 
to the cleaning of passenger rail cars, this rule would not require an 
employer to ensure that this person is trained to clean passenger rail 
cars. On the other hand, if the person is expected to perform any of 
the inspections, tests, or maintenance required by 49 CFR part 238, the 
person must be trained in accordance with all applicable Federal 
requirements. See e.g., Sec. Sec.  238.107 and 238.109.
    If the employer's rules mirror the Federal requirements, or are 
even more restrictive than the Federal requirements, the employer may 
train to the employer's own rules and would not be required to provide 
separate training on the Federal requirements. During the RSAC process, 
some employers raised the concern that it would be confusing for 
employees if FRA required that training be made directly on the Federal 
requirements as that would pose potential conflicts whenever an 
employer's rule was stricter than the Federal requirement. FRA agrees 
with this concern, and this final rule does not require that employers 
provide separate training on both the Federal requirements and on 
employer's rules. As long as the employer's rules satisfy the minimum 
Federal requirements, an employer's training on its own rules will 
suffice.
    Although FRA does not want to confuse employees, FRA encourages 
employers to emphasize when compliance with the employer's rules is 
based on a Federal requirement so that employees can learn which duties 
are being imposed by the Federal government. When an employee is put on 
notice that an employer's rule is based on a Federal requirement, the 
notice that the Federal government deems the issue important enough to 
regulate may provide further incentive for the employee to comply with 
the rule at every opportunity. Additionally, in response to concerns 
raised by RSAC members during the Working Group meetings, FRA wants to 
be clear that the requirements in this part would not require an 
employee to be able to cite the volume, chapter, and section of each 
Federal railroad safety law, regulation, or order that is relevant to 
the employee's qualification.
    Often, a railroad or contractor will train employees on the 
employer's own safety-related rules, without referencing any particular 
Federal requirement. There may also be instances where the Federal 
requirement is generally stated with the expectation that the employer 
will create procedures or plans that will implement the conceptual 
requirement of the Federal requirement. Paragraph (a) makes clear that 
this part covers both types of training; i.e., training that either 
directly or indirectly is used to qualify safety-related railroad 
employees on the Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders 
the person is required to comply with to do his or her job. As an 
introductory matter, FRA also wishes to make clear that not all 
training is task-based. Some Federal requirements include prohibitions 
and the relevant training must impart that information so that 
employees know how they can comply. For example, employees need to know 
when they may use cell phones and when they are prohibited from using 
them.

[[Page 66477]]

    FRA received one comment suggesting that paragraph (a) could be 
improved. AAR suggests that paragraph (a) be amended because it could 
be interpreted to mean the opposite of what the preamble says is not 
intended; namely, that an employee has to be familiar with the actual 
wording and citations for relevant regulations. AAR suggests that 
paragraph (a) be amended to read: ``The purpose of this part is to 
ensure that any person employed by a railroad or a contractor of a 
railroad as a safety-related railroad employee is trained and qualified 
to comply with any relevant Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, 
and orders, as well as any relevant railroad rules and procedures 
promulgated to implement those Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders.'' FRA agrees with AAR's recommendation and has 
changed paragraph (a) accordingly.
    REB's comment recommends confirming the scope by stating that 
``This rule does not apply to training programs that do not address FRA 
rules, regulations, and orders.'' FRA believes it would be repetitive 
to restate the scope of the rule in the way in which REB's comment 
suggests and is concerned with the ambiguity of the double negative in 
the suggested rewrite. Meanwhile, REB's comment has merit and FRA 
offers the following clarification. REB's comment seems to indicate 
that if another Federal agency, or State or local jurisdiction required 
training, that the training required by these other authorities would 
not need to be addressed in the training programs submitted to FRA for 
approval. FRA agrees. Similarly, an employer may require its employees 
to complete company-specific training, such as training on an 
employee's duties and responsibilities, that are unrelated to FRA's 
requirements. Again, FRA agrees with REB that this final rule is not 
intended to require the employer to file those types of company-
specific training programs to FRA.
    No comments were received requesting specific changes to proposed 
paragraphs (b) through (d), and these paragraphs are identical to those 
in the NPRM.
    Paragraph (e) was not proposed, but has been added in order to 
clarify that this rule does not address hazardous materials training of 
``hazmat employees'' as that term is defined by PHMSA. PHMSA already 
extensively regulates the training of hazmat employees. This 
requirement has been added to prevent any confusion on the matter.

Section 243.3 Application and Responsibility for Compliance

    No comments were received concerning this proposed section and the 
rule text is identical to the proposed version. See 77 FR 6421.
    As discussed in the NPRM, the extent of FRA's jurisdiction, and the 
agency's exercise of that jurisdiction, is well-established. See 49 CFR 
part 209, appendix A. The application and responsibility for compliance 
section is consistent with FRA's published policy for how it will 
enforce the Federal railroad safety laws. This final rule is intended 
to apply to all railroads (except those types of railroads that are 
specifically listed as exceptions in paragraph (a)), contractors of 
railroads, and training organizations or learning institutions that 
train safety-related railroad employees. Paragraph (b) contains a 
statement clarifying that each person who performs the duties of this 
part is responsible for compliance, even if that duty is expressed in 
terms of the duty of a railroad.

Section 243.5 Definitions

    The final rule adds a definition for ``refresher training'' in 
response to comments and modifies the definition of ``formal training'' 
so it is clear that correspondence training is an acceptable type of 
formal training. The final rule also modifies the definition of 
``designated instructor'' to be clear that such a person, where 
applicable, has the necessary experience to effectively provide formal 
training ``of the subject matter.'' Otherwise, the definitions in this 
section are identical to the version in the NPRM. The analysis in the 
NPRM can be found at 77 FR 6421-25.
    This section defines a number of terms that have specific meaning 
in this part. A few of these terms have definitions that are similar 
to, but may not exactly mirror, definitions used elsewhere in this 
chapter. Definitions may differ from other parts of this chapter 
because a particular word or phrase used in the definition in another 
chapter does not have context within this part.
    FRA raised a question in the NPRM regarding the definitions of 
Administrator and Associate Administrator, even though these are 
standard definitions used in other parts of this chapter. In this part, 
the term Associate Administrator means the Associate Administrator for 
Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer. When the RSAC Committee voted for 
certain recommendations prior to the NPRM's publication, the 
recommendations did not address the role of the Associate Administrator 
for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer. The NPRM proposed this 
additional definition so that it would be clear that some of the 
proposed program review processes would be delegated to the Associate 
Administrator. The agency's expertise in reviewing training programs 
lies within its Office of Railroad Safety, and the decision-making on 
these issues will routinely be decided by the Associate Administrator. 
If a person were to have a material dispute with a decision of the 
Associate Administrator, it would be expected that the person could 
bring that dispute to the Administrator's attention and request final 
agency action. As FRA did not receive comments on this issue and 
believes it is an effective approach for agency decision-making, the 
final rule retains the Associate Administrator definition.
    The final rule defines the term formal training mainly to 
distinguish it from informal, less structured training that may be 
offered by employers. Generally, a briefing during a ``safety blitz,'' 
in which an employer quickly tries to raise awareness of a safety issue 
following an accident or close call incident, would not be considered 
formal training. Formal training would typically be more structured 
than a safety blitz briefing and be planned on a periodic basis so that 
all eligible employees would continuously get opportunities to take the 
training. Formal training should contain a defined curriculum, as it is 
not the type of training that can be hastily prepared and improvised.
    Formal training may be delivered in several different ways. Many 
people first think of classroom training as synonymous with formal 
training, and certainly that is one acceptable way of delivering formal 
training. However, the definition explains that ``[i]n the context of 
this part, formal training may include, but is not limited to, 
classroom, computer-based, correspondence, on-the-job, simulator, or 
laboratory training.'' The only change to this definition from the 
proposed rule is that FRA included correspondence training as a listed 
type of formal training. Although the list of formal types of training 
is specifically identified as not being comprehensive, FRA added 
correspondence to the list to address a commenter's concern. In a 
sense, correspondence training is not that much different than 
computer-based training. Computer-based training could certainly be 
web-based so that a learner could access training from anywhere with an 
electronic device capable of accessing the internet. Similarly, 
software could be given to a person to install on a business-owned or

[[Page 66478]]

personally-owned computer, and training could be accomplished anywhere 
the person used the computer. Consequently, FRA is adding 
correspondence training to the list of types of formal training.
    During the RSAC process prior to the NPRM's publication, some labor 
organizations explained that their members expressed a preference for 
classroom training over computer-based training. One valid concern 
expressed was that computer-based training is often performed without a 
qualified instructor present to answer questions. It can be frustrating 
to a training participant if the person finds a subject confusing and 
cannot get immediate clarification. Meanwhile, the RSAC members 
recognized an equally valid concern that there could be circumstances 
when a qualified instructor cannot immediately answer a substantive 
question during classroom training--so mandating classroom training is 
not necessarily the remedy for addressing this problem. The final rule 
addresses this concern by requiring that formal training include an 
opportunity for training participants ``to have questions timely 
answered during the training or at a later date.'' An employer, or 
other entity providing training, will need to establish procedures for 
providing participants the opportunity to have questions timely 
answered. For example, some course providers may give training 
participants an email address to send questions and promise to respond 
within five business days. Certainly, there are a wide-variety of 
reasonable procedures that could be established by course providers 
that could include registering a question by telephone, written form 
made available at the time of the training, or even instant-messaging 
(IM) during the training itself. However, in all such instances, 
procedures must be clear and provide the training participant an 
opportunity to have questions answered in a timely fashion.
    The term refresher training refers to the periodic retraining an 
employer determines is necessary to keep a safety-related railroad 
employee qualified. This is the training required for previously 
qualified employees, not employees who are completely new to the 
subject matter. Refresher training is required pursuant to paragraph 
(e) of Sec.  243.201. The term was used in the proposed rule, but was 
not defined in the NPRM. In consideration of a comment received, FRA 
has added this definition. Additional information about the comment and 
what is meant by refresher training is addressed in the Discussion of 
Specific Comments and Conclusions section.

Section 243.7 Penalties and Consequences for Non-Compliance

    This section was formerly proposed as Sec.  243.9, but was 
renumbered because proposed Sec.  243.7 (addressing the issue of 
waivers) was not retained in this final rule.
    No comments were directly received with regard to proposed Sec.  
243.9 and it is identical substantively to the proposed version; thus, 
the analysis provided for in the NPRM is merely summarized here. See 77 
FR 6425. Some commenters did raise questions regarding what civil 
penalty amounts would be reasonable if FRA were to take enforcement 
action, and those comments are addressed with regard to the analysis 
for appendix A, the schedule of civil penalties.
    This final rule section provides minimum and maximum civil penalty 
amounts determined in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties 
Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, Public Law 101-410 Stat. 890, 28 
U.S.C. 2461 note, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 
1996 Public Law 104-134, April 26, 1996, and the RSIA.

Subpart B--Program Components and Approval Process

Section 243.101 Employer Program Required

    Compared to the NPRM, this section only contains a few changes. In 
paragraphs (a) and (b), FRA extends the actual implementation dates 
significantly from the NPRM's proposed dates. The broad issue of 
implementation dates is addressed in the Discussion of Specific 
Comments and Conclusions section of this document. Also in paragraph 
(b), FRA is making some substantive changes which are addressed below. 
Finally, this analysis includes a discussion of comments received with 
regard to paragraph (d)(3) of this section, to explain why FRA decided 
to reject an alternative to the proposed rule that FRA suggested in the 
NPRM's section-by-section analysis.
    Paragraph (a) differs from the NPRM as it was split into two 
paragraphs so that small entity employers could be provided with one 
year longer to comply with the training program submission requirement 
as compared to those employers subject to this part with 400,000 total 
employee work hours or more annually. Paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) 
contain the general requirement for each ``employer'' to submit, adopt, 
and comply with a training program for its safety-related railroad 
employees. Both paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) provide a significantly 
more generous deadline for compliance than what was proposed.
    An employer's program must be submitted and approved by FRA in 
accordance with the process set forth in Sec. Sec.  243.107, 243.109, 
and 243.113. However, an employer's duty is not complete upon 
submission of a program to FRA. The employer will also be required to 
adopt and comply with its program. By using the term ``adopt,'' FRA is 
requiring each employer to accept its training program as its own. 
Furthermore, an employer is obligated to comply with its program by 
implementing it. Thus, when adopted and complied with, FRA would expect 
the employer's safety-related railroad employees to receive training in 
accordance with the employer's program. Potentially, FRA could take 
enforcement action if an employer failed to comply with its approved 
training program. As with any potential enforcement action, FRA will 
use its discretion regarding whether to issue a warning, a civil 
monetary penalty, or other enforcement action. See 49 CFR part 209, 
appendix A.
    NRC and ASLRRA recommend amending paragraph (b) of this proposed 
section so that an employer commencing operations subject to this part 
after the rule is implemented shall submit a training program within 
one year after commencing operations, instead of the proposed 90 days 
in advance of commencing operations. The commenters take the position 
that to do otherwise would stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of small 
business job creators. The commenters also state that many small 
business owners would not even know for certain that they would be 
starting a new business 90 days prior to commencing operations, much 
less be prepared to file an extensive training program with FRA. FRA 
agrees that the commenters have identified an issue, but disagrees on 
the approach to resolving the perceived conflict.
    Paragraph (b) differs from the proposal in order to provide equal 
treatment of program review and implementation regardless of whether an 
employer commences operations after the appropriate deadline under 
paragraph (b) or submits a training program as an existing employer 
under paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2). FRA decided not to retain paragraph 
(b) as proposed in order to address the concerns FRA received regarding 
the difficulties of compliance that start-ups and joint ventures could 
face. The change will still require an employer under

[[Page 66479]]

paragraph (b) to submit its training program prior to commencing 
operations, but will no longer contain the proposed requirement that 
the program be submitted at least 90 days prior to commencing 
operations. In addition, FRA has removed the proposed requirement that 
the employer wait for FRA to approve the program prior to adopting and 
complying with it. Instead, the final rule requires that the employer 
adopt and comply with its submitted training program no later than upon 
the commencement of operations. FRA does not agree with the comments 
suggesting that start-ups and joint ventures should be allowed to use 
employees for up to one year to perform safety-related duties without 
designating those employees in accordance with a training program filed 
with FRA. If FRA were to do so, FRA believes it would be creating a 
large loophole for many new businesses to use untrained or unqualified 
individuals in positions that endanger the lives of railroad employees 
and the general public. FRA notes that there is nothing in the 
regulation preventing an employer from implementing a training program 
prior to commencing operations so that its safety-related railroad 
employees are ready to work independently on its first day of 
operations. The employer is required to adopt and comply with the 
training program for the same reasons as explained in the analysis for 
paragraph (a).
    As no comments were received regarding paragraphs (c) through (f), 
and those paragraphs are identical to the proposed versions, we are 
merely summarizing the rest of the requirements in this section.
    Paragraph (c) requires a list of over-arching organizational 
requirements for each employer's training program.
    Paragraph (d) contains OJT training requirements that are essential 
to ensuring that OJT successfully concludes in a transfer of knowledge 
from the instructor to the employee (learning transfer), but only 
applies if a training program has OJT. As FRA alluded to in the 
analysis for the definition of OJT, too much OJT is currently 
unstructured and does not lead to learning transfer. OJT should not 
vary so much that one person can have a good mentor who is able to give 
the employee all the hands-on instruction the employee will need while 
another mentor makes the person simply watch the mentor do the job 
without any feedback, instruction, or quality hands-on experience. OJT 
should be a positive experience for the learner, as well as the mentor, 
with sufficient opportunity for practice and feedback.
    In the NPRM, FRA explained that a manual and a checklist may serve 
similar, but not identical purposes. RSAC recommended that FRA only 
require one or the other, or another similar document. By requiring 
only one document, the requirement is less burdensome. However, FRA 
requested comments in the section-by-section analysis of the NPRM with 
regard to paragraph (d)(3). FRA wanted commenters to consider the 
distinctions between these types of documents, and whether FRA should 
promulgate this final rule with a requirement for both a manual and a 
checklist. 77 FR 6426-27. In response, a number of railroads and 
railroad association commenters unanimously voiced strong opposition to 
the suggestion that a manual and a checklist should be required. The 
commenters argued primarily that a requirement for both a checklist and 
a manual would be micromanaging that would reduce an employer's 
flexibility to comply. AAR stated that ``railroads might use different 
methods for different types of employees and different types of 
training [and thus] . . . [u]niform . . . requirements for the 
documentation of tasks are neither necessary nor desirable.'' Although 
FRA strongly urges each employer to consider making both detailed 
manuals and the generally less detailed checklists available to all 
employees involved in OJT exercises, FRA has decided to provide each 
employer with the flexibility to choose which type of reference 
document must be made to employees involved in OJT exercises.
    In concluding the analysis of this section, FRA responds to a 
comment by APTA requesting that FRA simplify the OJT requirements 
further. APTA suggests that the OJT does not have to be ``a formalized 
program, replete with specific steps, tasks and methods that must be 
followed and documented in exacting detail.'' FRA does not agree with 
APTA that the OJT requirements are too complicated and unnecessary. 
Without formalizing OJT, FRA will be unable to break the cycle of 
unstructured OJT practices by some employers that permit shadowing an 
experienced person without any confirmation of learning transfer on any 
particular safety-related tasks. If the rule failed to contain this 
requirement, the rule would likely fail to substantially improve 
safety. Certainly, each employer will need to review whether a 
previously imposed OJT program is too informal, and may not be able to 
maintain the status quo without adding structure or a defined 
curriculum as this rule requires for formal training.

Section 243.103 Training Components Identified in Program

    No comments were received that suggested specific changes with 
regard to this section and the final rule is identical to the proposed 
rule; thus, the analysis provided in the NPRM is merely summarized 
here. See 77 FR 6427-29.
    Unlike Sec.  243.101, which focuses on the general requirements for 
an employer's training program, this section details the component 
requirements for each program. The main purpose for this section is to 
ensure that an employer provides sufficient detail so that FRA would be 
able to understand how the program works when the agency reviews the 
program for approval. It is expected that a failure to include one or 
more component requirements would result in disapproval of the program. 
In Sec.  243.111, FRA also requires that training organizations and 
learning institutions include all information required for an 
employer's program in accordance with this part, and this mainly means 
the information required in this section. Thus, each program submitter 
should ensure that each component requirement in this section is 
addressed.
    Although the analysis for paragraph (b) of this section remains the 
same as that in the NPRM, FRA wants to emphasize that it provides an 
option for an employer to avoid submitting one or more similar training 
programs or plans when the employer has a separate requirement, found 
elsewhere in this chapter, to submit that similar program or plan to 
FRA. In order to take advantage of this option, an employer must choose 
to cross-reference any program or plan that it wishes not to submit in 
the program required by this part. In the NPRM, FRA listed the examples 
of FRA training programs that an employer may choose not to resubmit as 
located in Sec. Sec.  214.307, 217.9, 217.11, 218.95, 236.905, and 
240.101. After publication of the NPRM, FRA published a final rule 
regarding conductor certification at 49 CFR part 242. Certainly, the 
training program required by Sec. Sec.  242.101 and 242.103 is another 
example of a program that may be referenced in the program required by 
this part without being submitted again.
    During the Working Group meeting to discuss comments, AAR asked 
whether FRA will contact a railroad when a previously submitted program 
does not meet the training program criteria of this

[[Page 66480]]

rule. FRA explained that paragraph (b) requires the employer to state 
in the training program filed under this rule that it has previously 
filed a training program in accordance with another FRA regulation. 
Once an employer has put FRA on notice of the previously filed program 
under a different regulation, it will be FRA's burden to contact the 
railroad to address any perceived inadequacies.

Section 243.105 Optional Model Program Development

    This section of the final rule is identical to the proposed rule 
except for the addition of paragraph (a)(3). See 77 FR 6429-30. The 
addition of this paragraph was made to address FRA's concerns raised in 
the NPRM that incentives should be offered to submitters of model 
programs so that they are encouraged to seek FRA's approval of such 
programs at an early stage. Early approval of model programs would make 
it more likely that an employer could choose to adopt and comply with 
the model program. If a model program is not approved prior to the 
deadlines set forth in Sec.  243.101(a)(1) and (a)(2) for each employer 
to submit a program, the model program is not likely to be of much use 
to employers.
    To encourage early submission of model programs, FRA is 
guaranteeing that, as long as the submission is made prior to May 1, 
2017, the program may be considered implicitly approved and implemented 
180 days after the program is submitted unless FRA explicitly 
disapproves of the program. Although FRA encourages model program 
submitters to submit much earlier than this optional deadline, the 
deadline will permit programs submitted on April 30, 2017 to be 
implicitly approved on October 27, 2017--which is 65 days prior to the 
employer's deadline, for those employers with 400,000 total employee 
work hours annually or more, under Sec.  243.101(a)(1), and at least 
one year and 65 days prior to the small entity employer's deadline 
under Sec.  243.101(a)(2), as the small entity deadline may be extended 
depending on the date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance 
Guide. Of course, FRA may explicitly approve the program in less than 
180 days, which would also benefit the early model program submitter 
and the employers that intend to use the model program.
    FRA also received one comment regarding this section that pertained 
to the use of unique identifiers for each model program, but has 
decided not to amend this section based on the comment. The commenter 
recommends that FRA assign a unique identification number to all 
training developers--whether they are employers or third-party 
developers. In the NPRM, FRA proposed that each entity submitting an 
optional model program should submit a unique identifier associated 
with the program, or FRA will assign a unique identifier. The proposal 
and final rule provide a training developer with the maximum 
flexibility to create its own unique identifier. If one submitter 
duplicates another entity's identifier, FRA intends to notify the 
training developer so that entity has an opportunity to create another 
identifier. There does not appear to be any basis for supporting FRA's 
creation of unique identification numbers for training developers 
versus the developers creating their own unique identifier.
    During the RSAC process, FRA expressed that it wanted to encourage 
the development of model training programs that could be used by 
multiple employers. There are several reasons why model programs are 
desirable as an option. Smaller entities may struggle with the costs 
and burdens of developing a program independently; thus, a model 
program could reduce the costs, especially for smaller businesses. For 
instance, in the context of locomotive engineer training and 
certification programs required pursuant to 49 CFR part 240, FRA has 
worked with ASLRRA in developing model programs for use by short line 
and regional railroads. Furthermore, there are economies of scale that 
benefit FRA in helping organizations, associations, and other 
businesses to develop model programs that may be adopted by other 
entities. That is, the more businesses that adopt model programs, the 
fewer the number of programs FRA would need to closely scrutinize in 
the review process. FRA is willing to provide early and frequent 
feedback to any entity producing a model program. In that way, FRA can 
ensure that each model program will contain all of the necessary 
components of a successful program and can be implemented by multiple 
businesses with little fear of rejection during the program submission 
and approval process.
    Paragraph (a) contains an option that would permit any 
organization, business, or association to submit one or more model 
programs to FRA for later use by multiple employers. As FRA explained 
in the preamble under the heading ``Compliance Guide,'' FRA will be 
publishing an interim final compliance guide in early 2015. 
Additionally, FRA has amended the proposal so that small entities will 
have at least four years to review FRA's guidance prior to the 
requirement in Sec.  243.101(a)(2) that a small employer file a 
training program. That schedule for publication of a compliance guide 
should also benefit model program developers who will want to reference 
the guide in their attempt to meet the May 1, 2017 submission deadline 
in Sec.  243.105(a)(3). In addition to short line and regional 
railroads, FRA encourages similar types of contractors to submit model 
programs possibly developed by a common association. In some instances, 
it is foreseeable that several employers may hire an organization, such 
as a training organization or learning institution, to develop a model 
program for those multiple employers to submit to FRA. FRA notes that 
the model program would be the program for any employer that chooses to 
submit it, and it is not a program submitted on behalf of the training 
organization, business, or learning institution that developed the 
program. Another possibility is that one railroad or contractor 
develops a program for its own use that it later allows other entities 
to copy. FRA expects that some organizations, businesses, and 
associations may take a proprietary interest in any model program it 
develops; however, FRA would hope that the costs imposed on small 
entities would be reasonable. Although FRA does not intend to draft and 
develop programs for employers to use, FRA intends to provide guidance 
to any person or entity in the development of model or individual 
employer programs.
    To aid users, model program developers may use a modular approach 
in the design phase. For example, a model program designed for Track 
Safety Standards (49 CFR part 213), will likely incorporate all 
subparts (A-G) of the regulation. A modular approach will enable small 
railroad that may have all ``excepted track'' to essentially only use 
the training materials associated with subparts A and F, since the 
regulation for excepted track only requires a weekly inspection and a 
record of the inspection. Similarly, any railroad that only operates 
trains for distances of 20 miles or less are not required to train to 
the full requirements of the Brake System Safety Standards for Freight 
(49 CFR part 232). Once again, a modular approach in the design phase 
will enable users to easily customize a model program to fit their 
operational needs.

Section 243.107 Training Program Submission, Introductory Information 
Required

    No comments were received recommending specific changes with regard 
to this section and the final rule is identical to the proposed rule; 
thus,

[[Page 66481]]

the analysis provided in the NPRM is merely summarized here. See 77 FR 
6430.
    In this section, FRA requires specific information from each 
employer submitting a program. The required information will provide 
FRA with some introductory information that the agency will need to 
understand the employer's approach to training. The information 
required in these paragraphs is intended to help put the training 
components in the program in some context before a reviewer reads the 
finer details of each component. For example, FRA may closely 
scrutinize a small railroad's training program if the program states 
that the employer primarily conducts the training of its own safety-
related railroad employees using its own resources. The reason that 
information may raise a concern is that smaller railroads would not 
always have qualified instructors to implement all the different types 
of training required by the Federal laws, regulations, and orders.

Section 243.109 Training Program Submission, Review, and Approval 
Process

    Several comments were received with regard to this section, but 
most of those comments did not persuade FRA to deviate from the 
provisions proposed in the NPRM. As the comments raised fairly narrow 
issues, the comments have been addressed in this analysis. As most of 
the final rule is identical to the proposed rule, the analysis provided 
in the NPRM is merely summarized here. Interested parties are directed 
to the NPRM for a more detailed discussion. The analysis in the NPRM 
can be found at 77 FR 6430-32. However, the following analysis explains 
the differences between the proposed rule and this final rule.
    Paragraph (a)(1) addresses the issue of how employers must address 
apprenticeship, or similar intern programs, that have begun prior to 
submission of the employer's initial program filed in accordance with 
this part. RSAC recommended that FRA address this situation so that 
those persons who had already started an apprenticeship-type training 
program would know that their training would not be mooted by this 
final rule. During the RSAC deliberations, there were general concerns 
raised that some long-term training might be initiated prior to a 
training program submission and that, when reviewed in the context of 
the rest of the employer's initial program, the long-term training 
would not meet the employer's program requirements. In some instances, 
it may be possible to revise an apprenticeship or similar long-term 
intern program that has already begun; in other instances, changing the 
apprenticeship program would be prohibitively expensive or logistically 
difficult. RSAC recommended and FRA accepted the premise that as long 
as the apprenticeship-type training program is described in the 
employer's initial program, that apprenticeship or similar intern 
program may continue unless FRA advises the employer of specific 
deficiencies.
    As FRA explained previously in the section-by-section analysis to 
Sec.  243.101, the agency chose to provide equal treatment to an 
employer whether it is submitting a training program as an existing 
employer (as of January 1, 2018 under Sec.  243.101(a)(1) or as of 
January 1, 2019 under Sec.  243.101(a)(2)) or as an employer commencing 
operations after January 1, 2018 under Sec.  243.101(b). FRA decided to 
provide this equal treatment in order to address concerns FRA received 
regarding the difficulties of compliance that start-ups and joint 
ventures could face. In order to carry that equal treatment throughout 
the rule, FRA is requiring the same initial program submission 
requirements for both Sec.  243.101(a) and (b) employers in paragraph 
(a)(2) of this section, and has removed proposed paragraph (a)(3) of 
this section. This will allow all employers to consider their initial 
program submissions to be approved and ready for immediate 
implementation. Railroads are already required to ensure proper 
training techniques prior to commencing their operations. Therefore, 
this rule should not create barriers to entry nor delays in starting 
new operations. More so, new railroads would have access to model 
training programs and best-in-class training practices. Therefore, they 
should be able to use their own human resources more efficiently for 
training purposes and possibly expedite entry into market.
    FRA did not receive comments suggesting that allowing an employer 
to immediately implement a training program without explicit FRA-
approval might prove problematic; however, FRA considered whether the 
final rule could be problematic in that regard. FRA starts with the 
premise that even before this final rule is effective, all safety-
related railroad employees are required to comply with the applicable 
Federal railroad safety laws, regulations and orders. An employer is 
responsible for its employees, and thus FRA could hold an employer 
accountable for any violations committed by an employee. In FRA's 
experience with program approval requirements, employers express the 
greatest anxiety over whether they can immediately implement a program 
versus having to wait for FRA's explicit approval. By allowing 
employers to immediately implement a program, FRA believes it has 
relieved most anxiety that employers are likely to have. In FRA's 
experience, it often takes several years before a latent problem in a 
training program is discovered. The open ended approval process permits 
FRA to go back years after initial approval and raise newly identified 
alleged instances of non-compliance. Although FRA will use enforcement 
when necessary, the agency's primary goal is to improve training for 
safety-related railroad employees and FRA expects that its focus will 
be on employers taking effective remedial measures.
    If an employer's training program failed to meet the requirements 
of this final rule, there are two potential concerns. One concern is 
that the employer will incur additional training costs beyond what it 
would have incurred if FRA had rendered explicit approval prior to 
implementation and the second is that the employees will not be 
adequately trained. With regard to the first concern, FRA expects that 
most shortline railroads and contractors will use model programs 
previously FRA-approved in accordance with Sec.  243.105. Because the 
model program would have received prior approval, FRA expects that any 
problems encountered will likely be with the implementation of the 
programs and not the programs themselves. Problems with implementation 
are likely to be discovered during investigations and audits, not 
during program reviews. If an employer is implementing its own 
individualized program. FRA expects that the worst case scenario is 
that the program would reflect the current state of the employer's 
training program without formalizing OJT or other aspects of its 
training. Under these scenarios, FRA intends to instruct the employer 
on the requirements of the rule and request a plan to get the training 
program in compliance with the final rule. Enforcement action will be 
considered on a case-by-case basis, but certainly would not be 
warranted in every instance if swift remedial action can be 
accomplished. An employer filing an individualized training program 
might be able to avoid these issues by submitting its program much 
earlier than the applicable implementation deadline and thereby getting 
FRA-approval prior to implementation. With regard to the second concern 
that employees will not

[[Page 66482]]

be properly trained, again, FRA does not see the problem as an employer 
failing to discuss a subject as an employer is responsible for an 
employee's non-compliance even prior to the effective date of this 
rule. FRA believes the problems will be that the training is not 
sufficiently formalized to capture that an employee can complete each 
assigned task; as this is an essential element of this final rule, it 
seems that it would be a blatant disregard of the requirements of the 
rule for an employer to leave it out of its program. In those cases, 
enforcement action is likely appropriate and, depending on the 
circumstances, an employer will have to plan a fix for the next 
training cycle or immediate remedial measures.
    In paragraph (b), FRA implements a requirement for an annual 
informational filing. This filing is intended to ease an employer's 
regulatory burden by reducing the number of times an entire training 
program would need to be revised, resubmitted, and reviewed for 
approval on routine matters. An employer is required to submit a single 
informational filing no later than January 30 each calendar year that 
addresses any new safety-related Federal railroad laws, regulations, or 
orders issued, or new safety-related technologies, procedures, or 
equipment that were introduced into the workplace during the previous 
calendar year. The rule explains how FRA may advise individual 
employers, one or more group of employers, or the general public that 
an informational filing is not required for a particular issue.
    APTA's comment requests that each railroad be provided the 
discretion to file an information filing anytime it wants rather than 
within 30 days of the end of the calendar year. However, FRA notes that 
APTA has misinterpreted the requirement. Under paragraph (b) of this 
section, an employer must file an informational filing ``not later than 
30 days after the end of the calendar year in which the modification 
occurred, unless FRA advises otherwise.'' There is no prohibition 
against an employer filing earlier than 30 days after the end of the 
calendar year in which the modification occurred. FRA has simply set a 
deadline for filing the informational filings, not a requirement that 
the filings can only be made within 30 days of the end of the calendar 
year.
    Paragraph (c) sets forth the requirements for an employer that 
wants to revise a training program that has been previously approved. 
The requirement would allow substantial additions or revisions to a 
previously approved program to be considered approved and implemented 
immediately upon submission. For example, a program is considered 
revised if the employer adds any occupational categories or 
subcategories of safety-related railroad employees to the training 
program. Most other changes to an existing program would not be 
considered a substantial addition or revision but instead would likely 
require only an ``informational filing'' under paragraph (b).
    AAR's comment reiterated a concern raised during RSAC Working Group 
meetings that the final rule should contain the flexibility to 
implement modifications in a manner consistent with each railroad's 
normal training schedule. After discussing the issue at the Working 
Group meeting to discuss the comments, it is FRA's belief that the 
final rule contains the flexibility that AAR seeks. For example, under 
paragraph (b), ``the employer must review its previously approved 
training program and modify it accordingly when new safety-related 
Federal railroad laws, regulations, or orders are issued, or new 
safety-related technologies, procedures, or equipment are introduced 
into the workplace and result in new knowledge requirements, safety-
related tasks, or modification of existing safety-related duties.'' 
Pursuant to paragraph (b), FRA expects that new legal requirements will 
contain their own implementation deadlines and that any employer 
implementing a new legal requirement will comply with that new legal 
requirement's deadline. Paragraph (b) also requires that an employer 
that needs to modify its training program to implement a new legal 
requirement shall submit an informational filing to the Associate 
Administrator not later than 30 days after the end of the calendar year 
in which the modification occurred, unless FRA advises otherwise. In 
other words, the rule requires that the employer be permitted the 
flexibility to modify the program at any time but the employer is not 
required to notify FRA of the modification until January 30 in the year 
after the modification occurred. The informational filing is the 
employer's notice to the FRA that the modification to the training 
program was made the previous year. As AAR's members will have 
completed new training curriculums by January 1 of each year, 
summarizing the modifications and filing the changes in an 
informational filing to FRA by January 30 should not pose an obstacle 
for any railroad that wishes to continue its normal training schedule.
    Similarly, there is no requirement in paragraph (c) that could 
possibly deter a railroad or contractor from having the maximum 
flexibility to implement modifications in a manner consistent with the 
employer's training schedules. Paragraph (c) permits substantial 
additions or revisions to a previously approved program, that are not 
described as informational filings in accordance with paragraph (b) of 
this section, to be considered approved and ready for immediate 
implementation upon submission. Of course, if an employer chooses to 
submit the addition or revision during the early part of a newly 
started training cycle (e.g., January through March for a major 
railroad) and FRA finds the addition or revision does not conform to 
this part, the employer will potentially have trained and be continuing 
to train employees based on a non-conforming program. Thus, an employer 
that begins new training in January should make every effort to get 
FRA's approval of an addition or revision prior to January.
    FRA disagrees with APTA's concerns regarding the training program 
submission, review, and approval process. APTA states that the approval 
process ``stifles the development of innovative and progressive 
techniques in training methodologies which could provide better 
employee understanding and adherence.'' APTA suggests that FRA add a 
provision to the final rule for a provisional status, such as 
``Conditional Acceptance'' to allow for piloting or testing of new 
training approaches outside of misusing the waiver application for such 
a purpose. APTA is concerned that FRA will reject new training concepts 
or that an employer cannot utilize new training concepts until FRA 
approves a program. In response, FRA notes that under the rule, an 
employer could, at any time, submit substantial additions or revisions 
to a previously approved program and that the submission would be 
considered approved and may be implemented immediately upon submission. 
See Sec.  243.109(c). Thus, as an employer could change the method of 
course delivery (see Sec.  243.103 Training components identified in 
program) at any time after a program has been approved; a provision for 
conditional acceptance is unnecessary. The change will be considered 
accepted unless FRA determines that the new portion or revision to an 
approved program does not conform to this part; however, even then an 
employer will have 90 days to resubmit the program in accordance with 
the instructions provided by FRA.
    APTA further comments that the disqualification procedure for the 
program was not well-defined in the NPRM and that due process should be 
provided. APTA is concerned about

[[Page 66483]]

employers having to pay civil penalties for failing to resubmit 
conforming programs. FRA does not believe that additional procedures 
are warranted. The procedures are sufficiently defined and give FRA the 
discretion to address each type of non-conformance through enforcement. 
FRA believes it needs the discretion to decide the appropriate method 
of addressing non-conforming training programs. FRA does not expect 
civil penalties to be assessed for program deficiencies that are 
correctable and corrected within the time allotted to the employer. FRA 
envisions taking enforcement action when an employer has a deficient 
program that is not corrected within the 90 days provided, and the 
deficiency is likely to have an impact on the quality of the training 
or the non-conforming aspect of the program makes it difficult for FRA 
to properly assess the quality of the program. Whenever possible, FRA 
would consider the potential disruption in requiring an immediate fix 
to a deficient program and extend this 90-day period upon written 
request in accordance with paragraph (a)(2). Instead of requiring the 
deficiencies to be fixed within 90 days, FRA could allow changes in the 
program to be made during during the employer's normal program review 
and implemented during the employer's normal training cycle. 
Furthermore, FRA is not obligated to assess civil penalties or take 
other enforcement action, and does not anticipate doing so unless the 
agency deems that such action is warranted.
    FRA also expects that, in some instances, FRA representatives will 
be meeting with the entity that submits the non-conforming program and 
discussing the issues FRA identifies as problematic. These types of 
meetings are expected to lead to a better understanding of FRA's 
concerns, which FRA hopes would alleviate any anxiety that the agency 
is acting without understanding the submitter's concerns. Finally, once 
a submitter has exhausted its requests for FRA to accept its program, 
the submitter may have a legal cause of action based on the agency's 
final decision. Thus, the submitter will receive due process by 
appealing to Federal court after receiving an adverse final agency 
action. See Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701-706.
    The requirement in paragraph (d), to serve and involve labor 
organizations in the review of training programs, is for railroads 
only. One comment requested further clarification on what entities were 
obligated to comply with paragraph (d). For this reason, FRA clarifies 
that this requirement does not apply to any non-railroad entities that 
may have other obligations within this part. Thus, paragraph (d) does 
not apply to contractors, training organizations, and learning 
institutions that submit training programs. Paragraph (d) also does not 
apply to any model program submitters, unless the submitter is a 
railroad that intends to implement the model program on its own 
property following FRA approval.
    FRA has also rejected AAR's comments suggesting that the 
requirement for a railroad to maintain proof that it has served a labor 
organization president with a training submission, resubmission, or 
informational filing is unnecessary under paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this 
section. AAR states that if a railroad failed to provide a labor 
organization president with service of the training program, the 
railroad would be subject to FRA enforcement. AAR also questions the 
need for the names and addresses of the people served, as it is 
anachronistic with the use of electronic service and electronic 
docketing systems. FRA notes that it has recently promulgated a similar 
provision in 49 CFR part 242, Conductor Certification, and that the 
agency's concern is ensuring that the relevant labor organizations have 
sufficient time to review and provide FRA with feedback on the training 
submissions. When FRA reviews the program, if the agency notices that a 
certificate of service contains out-of-date or incorrect information 
then the agency can notify the railroad and relevant labor 
representatives of the error quickly. Certainly, if the labor 
organizations are amenable to being served by email or some other 
electronic means, the railroad would be required to capture that 
electronic address in addition to the name of the labor organization 
president served. FRA is less concerned with catching a railroad out of 
compliance than with ensuring that labor organizations have a full 90 
days to comment on any program submission and not otherwise delaying 
the approval process because of improper service. Without a certificate 
of service, there is a greater likelihood that a railroad could 
intentionally or negligently fail to properly serve a labor 
organization. The certificate of service provides FRA with a relatively 
simple way to verify that the correct persons have been served.
    Paragraph (d)(2) requires that each railroad labor organization has 
up to 90 days to file a comment. The reason for the 90-day deadline is 
that FRA would like to send approval notification to railroads in a 
timely fashion. Without a deadline for comments, the approval process 
would seem open ended. However, FRA realizes that, from time-to-time, a 
labor organization may find something objectionable in a previously 
approved program, and FRA encourages those types of comments to be 
filed as they are discovered. When a labor organization discovers an 
objectionable issue outside of the required 90-day window, FRA would 
still accept the comment and review the issue to see whether a revision 
to the training program is warranted.

Section 243.111 Approval of Programs Filed by Training Organizations or 
Learning Institutions

    Only one comment was received with regard to this section and it is 
addressed in this analysis without a need to change the proposal. FRA 
made a slight change to paragraph (b) in order to align the 
implementation deadline for training organizations and learning 
institutions with that of the other implementation deadlines in the 
final rule. Otherwise, the final rule is identical substantively to the 
proposed version and the analysis provided for in the NPRM is merely 
summarized here. Interested parties are directed to the NPRM for a more 
detailed discussion. The analysis in the NPRM can be found at 77 FR 
6432-34.
    The purpose of this section is to facilitate the option of using 
training organizations or learning institutions. An employer that 
intends to implement any training programs conducted by some other 
entity (such as a training organization or learning institution), or 
intends to qualify safety-related railroad employees previously trained 
by training organizations or learning institutions, has an obligation 
to inform FRA of that fact in the employer's submission. If FRA has 
already approved the training organization or learning institution's 
program, an employer could reference the approved program in its 
submission, avoid lengthy duplication, and likely expect a quick review 
and approval by FRA. Furthermore, individuals or employers that use 
training provided by training organizations or learning institutions 
need assurances that the training will meet or exceed FRA's 
requirements prior to incurring any training expense. Without such 
assurances, an individual or employer may determine that paying for 
such training is not worth the risk.
    Paragraph (b) requires that a training organization or learning 
institution that has provided training services to employers covered by 
this part prior to January 1, 2017 may continue to offer such training 
services without FRA approval until January 1, 2018. The final

[[Page 66484]]

rule is more generous than the NPRM as it provides additional time for 
any training organization or learning institution to submit a program 
for FRA approval. FRA decided that since the final rule does not 
require any employer to submit a program prior to January 1, 2018, FRA 
should permit any training organization or learning institution to 
continue offering such training services without FRA approval until 
that date. Each training organization and learning institution should 
understand that its best interests are served by seeking early FRA 
approval of its training program so the program can be referenced by 
the employers who are its clients. In accordance with paragraph (d) of 
this section, explicit approval of such a program is required and the 
program will not be considered approved on submission. FRA will need 
time to review each program and it can be anticipated that the agency 
will be busy reviewing a large volume of programs late in 2017 and 
throughout 2018. Thus, each training organization and learning 
institution should plan to file its program as early as possible to 
avoid implementation delays.
    Paragraph (c) requires that a program submitted by a training 
organization or learning institution must include all information 
required for an employer's program in accordance with this part, unless 
the requirement could only apply to an employer's program. In the 
section-by-section analysis in the NPRM, FRA explained that this 
sentence mainly refers to the requirements found in Sec. Sec.  243.101 
and 243.103. FRA received one comment requesting clarification as to 
whether Sec.  243.103(a)(3) applies to employers only. In response to 
the comment, FRA notes that the citation refers to the requirement for 
an employer's program to have a document for each OJT program component 
that includes certain information about the OJT program. FRA concludes 
that OJT would not be a required part of a program filed by a training 
organization or learning institution, but individual employers that 
utilize a training organization or learning institution may choose to 
supplement a program with OJT. It can be left to each employer to 
clarify that supplemental OJT issue in the employer's program. Please 
note that OJT is not considered a mandatory program requirement and, 
other types of hands-on formal training provided by a training 
organization or learning institution may be considered an adequate 
substitute for OJT.

Sec.  243.113 Electronic and Written Program Submission Requirements

    In the NPRM, FRA raised the issue of whether the option to file a 
program electronically should be modified to mandate electronic filing. 
An electronic submission process would allow the agency to more 
efficiently track and review training programs than a written paper 
submission process would permit. FRA was also concerned with incurring 
costs in developing and maintaining an electronic submission process if 
many submitters opted out. FRA always has the option to add paper 
submissions to an electronic database, but FRA would have to allocate 
resources to digitize and upload those paper submissions to the 
database.
    FRA received one comment that objected to mandatory electronic 
submission. ASLRRA disagreed with FRA's assumption that even the 
smallest Class III railroads should have access to the Internet (or 
reliable access), and should therefore be able to file a training 
program electronically. FRA explored this issue with ASLRRA and the 
Working Group at the meeting held to discuss the comments filed in 
response to the NPRM.
    FRA's electronic submission mandate addresses the ASLRRA's comment 
by creating an exception for an employer with less than 400,000 total 
employee work hours annually in paragraph (a) of this section. 
Typically, when FRA has created an exception for small entities 
(especially railroads), it has defined small entities as those having 
less than 400,000 total employee work hours annually. FRA's exception 
is an accommodation that will spare small companies from requesting a 
waiver from the otherwise mandatory electronic submission process. Of 
course, nothing in this final rule precludes an employer with less than 
400,000 total employee work hours annually from submitting its program 
electronically. If an employer does not meet the requirements for the 
exception and does not have the capability to file electronically, the 
employer may submit a waiver request to FRA, consistent with FRA's 
general waiver provision found at 49 CFR part 211. Paragraph (a) also 
requires that all model programs be filed electronically in accordance 
with the requirements of this section.
    In addition to the previously mentioned considerations, FRA 
considered that it is becoming routine for private and public 
transactions to occur electronically. It would currently be unusual for 
an employer to forego having a Web site that customers can visit. FRA 
also expects that many companies would prefer not to have to print out 
written materials to mail in when a paper free electronic submission 
process is available. For these reasons, FRA is best served by 
requiring electronic submission.
    This section and section title were modified from the NPRM to 
reflect the mandatory nature of the electronic program submission and 
to acknowledge that the section also contains the requirements for a 
written submission. Other than the comment and changes previously 
discussed, only minor edits were made compared to the proposed section. 
Interested parties are directed to the NPRM for a more detailed 
discussion. The analysis in the NPRM can be found at 77 FR at 6434.
    Paragraph (b)(1) was changed from the proposal so that it is clear 
that organizations, businesses, and associations may file a program, 
not just employers, training organizations, and learning institutions. 
Throughout the section, the term ``person'' was substituted for the 
term ``entity,'' which was not defined in the NPRM or this final rule.
    FRA intends to create a secure document submission site and will 
need basic information from each company before setting up the user's 
account. The points of contact information in paragraph (b) are 
necessary in order to provide secure access. FRA has already developed 
a prototype of the document submission site and has offered a variety 
of likely users that represent the gamut of the regulated community an 
opportunity to test the site. Based on feedback received from test 
users, FRA received valuable insight into the pros and cons of the 
prototype. If necessary, the secure site should be able to start 
accepting electronic submissions by the effective date of the rule, 
although FRA expects to make additional functionality improvements up 
to the date of publication of FRA's compliance guide. FRA encourages 
every regulated organization and employer to obtain access to FRA's 
secure document submission site early in the program drafting process 
in order to become familiar with what can be accomplished on the site 
and potentially to enter basic user or program information so that the 
contact for the organization or employer will only need to upload the 
relevant written program submissions as they are completed. By 
developing the electronic submission process years in advance before 
the first programs are required for submission, FRA intends to create 
an electronic submission process that is easy to use and provides 
benefits to both the user and the agency.

[[Page 66485]]

    The requirements in paragraphs (c), (e), and (f) will allow FRA to 
make efficient use of this electronic database. It is anticipated that 
FRA will be able to approve or disapprove all or part of a program and 
generate automated notifications by email to an entity's points of 
contact. Thus, FRA wants each point of contact to understand that by 
providing any email addresses, the entity is consenting to receive 
approval and disapproval notices from FRA by email. Entities that allow 
notice from FRA by email would gain the benefit of receiving such 
notices quickly and efficiently.
    Paragraph (d) is necessary to provide FRA's mailing address for 
those entities that need to submit a program submission in writing to 
FRA. Those entities that choose to submit printed materials to FRA must 
deliver them directly to the specified address. Some entities may 
choose to deliver a CD, DVD, or other electronic storage format to FRA 
rather than requesting access to upload the documents directly to the 
secure electronic database; although this will be an acceptable method 
of submission if the exception in paragraph (a) applies or the entity 
is granted a waiver, FRA would encourage each entity to utilize the 
electronic submission capabilities of the system. Please be advised 
that FRA will reject any submission if FRA does not have the capability 
to read it in the type of electronic storage format sent.
    In the NPRM, FRA requested comments on whether this section should 
address the submission of proprietary materials or other materials that 
an entity wishes to keep confidential. This issue has been addressed 
previously under the Discussion of Specific Comments and Conclusions 
section of this document.

Subpart C--Program Implementation and Oversight Requirements

    Once a program has been approved by FRA, each employer will have to 
comply with the requirements of this subpart. The subpart includes both 
implementation and oversight requirements. Some requirements apply only 
to railroads, and others to both railroads and contractors. 
Additionally, each training organization and learning institution will 
be required to maintain records as evidence of completed training.

Section 243.201 Employee Qualification Requirements

    Except for comments received regarding implementation dates, no 
comments were received requesting specific changes to this proposed 
section. FRA made some minor changes and clarifications to this section 
which are explained in the following analysis. This analysis summarizes 
all the requirements, but interested parties should reference the NPRM 
(77 FR 6434-36) for additional analysis on those requirements that are 
the same as the proposal.
    The implementation dates in paragraphs (a), (b), and (e) have been 
extended from the proposal to address concerns raised in the comments. 
Paragraph (a), which requires each employer to designate existing 
employees, was split into two paragraphs so that smaller employers will 
have an extra year to comply with that requirement; this change from 
the proposal mirrors the change made to Sec.  243.101(a) that provides 
smaller employers with an extra year to submit a training program. The 
implementation date issues are discussed in greater detail in the 
Discussion of Specific Comments and Conclusions section of this 
document, but FRA complied with the spirit of the agreement reached by 
the Working Group to delay the start of refresher training so that it 
does not interrupt the normal three year training cycle instituted by 
many employers. Paragraph (b) contains a conforming change to reflect 
the new implementation dates in paragraph (a) of this section. 
Paragraph (e) was also split into two paragraphs so that smaller 
employers will have an extra year to comply with the refresher training 
requirements. In addition, in order to explain FRA's intent regarding 
when refresher training is due when the last training event occurs 
prior to FRA's approval of the employer's training program, some 
clarifying language has been added to paragraphs (e)(1) and (e)(2). 
This clarification is explained in more detail later in this analysis.
    In the NPRM, FRA raised the issue of whether proposed paragraph (f) 
should stand alone or be combined with proposed paragraph (c)(2) of 
this section. That is, the proposed paragraph (f) requirement related 
directly to situations in which ``as part of the OJT process and prior 
to completing such training and passing the field evaluation, a person 
may perform such tasks under the direct onsite observation of any 
qualified person, provided the qualified person has been advised of the 
circumstances and is capable of intervening if an unsafe act or non-
compliance with Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, or orders is 
observed.'' Because proposed paragraph (f) provided the context of what 
is a ``qualified person'' under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, FRA 
has decided that the proposed paragraph (f) requirement should be 
incorporated into the final paragraph (c)(2). This information explains 
why FRA deleted proposed paragraph (f) of this section.
    This section includes an exemption for existing employees to be 
designated for a particular occupational category or subcategory 
without further training, provides procedures for qualifying those 
employees that are not exempted by the employer for a particular 
occupational category or subcategory, and requires each employer to 
deliver refresher training. FRA's intention is to ensure that all 
safety-related railroad employees receive proper initial training if 
previously unqualified, and that all previously qualified employees 
receive refresher training at regular intervals to ensure continued 
compliance. FRA encourages each employer to find ways to provide 
remedial training and retesting of any employee that fails to 
successfully pass any training or testing. Under this part, a failure 
of any test or training does not bar the person from successfully 
completing the training or testing at a later date. Of course, FRA does 
not regulate employment issues and will leave those issues to be 
settled in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining 
agreement or employment and labor law.
    Paragraph (e) of this section requires that each employer shall 
deliver refresher training at an interval not to exceed three calendar 
years from the date of an employee's last training event, except where 
refresher training is specifically required more frequently in 
accordance with this chapter. Comments were raised at the Working Group 
meeting regarding how to treat employees who are already receiving 
refresher training in a three year cycle. The commenters wanted to 
clarify that FRA would not be requiring every existing employee to 
receive refresher training in the same year, which would disrupt the 
current refresher training cycle as well as be expensive and 
logistically difficult. The commenters correctly stated FRA's position, 
although FRA determined that the proposal could be improved to 
articulate that position more clearly. The regulatory language 
indicates that the employer is required to conduct refresher training 
at an interval based on ``an employee's last training event.'' Based on 
the comments, FRA has added clarification in the rule to further 
bolster the agency's intent that if the last training event occurs 
prior to FRA's approval of the employer's training program, the 
employer shall provide refresher training either within 3

[[Page 66486]]

calendar years from that prior training event or no later than December 
31, 2022 or December 31, 2023, depending on the size of the employer. 
The changes from the proposal do not prevent an employer from 
initiating and completing its first round of refresher training all 
within the year of the applicable deadline established by paragraphs 
(e)(1) or (e)(2). However, the final rule allows for any employer to 
begin or continue implementing refresher training on a three calendar 
year cycle for one-third of its workforce each year without creating 
any logistical issues.

Section 243.203 Records

    Several comments were received with regard to this section and they 
are addressed in this analysis. Compared to the NPRM, this section is 
substantially the same except that proposed paragraph (b)(5) was 
deleted, resulting in the renumbering of the remaining numbered 
paragraphs in paragraph (b); paragraph (c) was amended to address 
comments suggesting that certain types of records should only be 
required to be kept at one of the employer's headquarters location 
within the United States; and, the electronic recordkeeping 
requirements were revised to more closely resemble FRA's latest 
approach in this chapter. As most of the final rule is identical to the 
proposed rule, the analysis provided in the NPRM is merely summarized 
here. Interested parties are directed to the NPRM for a more detailed 
discussion. See 77 FR 6436-38.
    An essential requirement of any training program is the maintenance 
of adequate records to support that the training was completed. In 
paragraph (a) of this section, FRA sets forth the general requirements 
for each safety-related railroad employee's qualification status 
records and the accessibility of those records. One commenter asks 
whether a railroad will be required to maintain records for its 
contractors. The answer to the question is found in paragraph (a) which 
requires that each employer is responsible for keeping records of each 
of its own safety-related railroad employees. Thus, a railroad is not 
required to maintain records for any contractor's safety-related 
railroad employees. It is the contractor that is responsible for 
keeping records of its own employees.
    In paragraph (b), FRA requires that certain core information be 
kept in the records for each current or former safety-related railroad 
employee. As mentioned previously in this analysis, proposed paragraph 
(b)(5) was deleted. In the NPRM, FRA questioned whether proposed 
paragraph (b)(5) was necessary as it would have required that the 
records for each current or former safety-related railroad employee 
indicate whether the person passed or failed any tests associated with 
training even though paragraph (b)(4) requires that the employer 
indicate in the records that the person successfully completed a 
specified formal training course. FRA received four comments supporting 
removal of proposed paragraph (b)(5) as unnecessary and none in support 
of retaining the provision.
    Paragraph (c) contains a three-year record retention requirement 
for any records that are not individual employee records. The records 
referred to here would mainly be those kept in accordance with periodic 
oversight (Sec.  243.205) and the annual review (Sec.  243.207). The 
proposed three-year window for retention would actually be a bit longer 
than 3 years because it would be measured as three calendar years after 
the end of the calendar year to which the event relates. Thus, if a 
test occurred on March 1, 2018, the record would need to be maintained 
through December 31, 2021.
    Paragraph (c) also requires that any records that are not 
individual employee records must be accessible at one headquarters 
location within the United States. This paragraph lists different types 
of acceptable headquarters locations, but this is not an all-inclusive 
list and certainly other locations may be suitable. However, FRA has 
specifically rejected the idea that a multi-national corporation could 
maintain these records exclusively in a foreign location as doing so 
could hamper FRA's enforcement activities. FRA eliminated the proposed 
requirement that these records also be kept at each division 
headquarters where the test, inspection, annual review, or other event 
is conducted after considering the overwhelming negative comments 
received. Thus, the revisions to this paragraph provide the flexibility 
sought by employers to choose where to maintain records, as well as 
eliminating the proposed requirement that the records also be 
maintained at certain division headquarters.
    Paragraph (d) contains the requirements for each employer, training 
organization, or learning institution to make available any record that 
it is required to maintain under this part.
    Paragraph (e) contains the requirements that apply for each 
employer, training organization, or learning institution that chooses 
to retain the information prescribed in this section by maintaining an 
electronic recordkeeping system. FRA decided not to retain the same 
provisions that were in the NPRM because the agency recently 
promulgated electronic recordkeeping provisions in the conductor 
certification final rule that provide a more up-to-date version of such 
requirements. See 49 CFR 242.203(g). NRC recommends deleting paragraphs 
(e)(1) through (e)(3) from this proposed section arguing that small 
contractors would find the requirements too prescriptive to comply 
with. In response, FRA disagrees with the comment that a small business 
would have difficulty complying with proposed paragraph (e)(3) or 
paragraph (e)(2) of the final rule, which requires limiting access and 
identifying individuals with access. Off-the-shelf software should be 
available to small businesses that would provide the appropriate 
security necessary to comply with these requirements. FRA is concerned 
that if these electronic recordkeeping system requirements are relaxed 
for small businesses that the integrity of the records would be 
susceptible to inadvertent changes or outright falsification. 
Individual employers may file a waiver request, using FRA's standard 
procedures in 49 CFR part 211, and provide alternative assurances to 
the integrity of an electronic system to bolster such a request.
    Paragraph (f) contains a transfer of records requirement with the 
goal of preserving training records that might otherwise be lost when 
an employer ceases to do business.

Section 243.205 Periodic Oversight

    FRA had requested comments on whether to expand periodic oversight 
beyond what was proposed in the NPRM, but the only comment FRA received 
with regard to this section requested that FRA not consider any 
additional oversight necessary. Considering the comment and the RSAC's 
recommendation, FRA has decided to keep this section of the final rule 
identical to the proposed version except for one non-substantive change 
discussed in this analysis. Thus, the analysis provided for in the NPRM 
is still applicable and merely summarized here. Interested parties are 
directed to the NPRM for a more detailed discussion. The analysis in 
the NPRM can be found at 77 FR 6438-41.
    There are two central purposes to conducting periodic oversight 
under a training rulemaking. One central purpose is to take notice of 
individual employees who are in non-compliance and to take corrective 
action to ensure

[[Page 66487]]

that those specific employees know how to do the work properly. In some 
instances, the employee might need coaching or retraining, especially 
if the person has not had much experience doing the work. In other 
instances, training may not be an issue and other remedial action may 
be appropriate. A second central purpose in conducting periodic 
oversight is to look at all of the oversight data as a whole to detect 
patterns of non-compliance. The annual review in Sec.  243.207 is 
intended to spur such a global review of training and trigger 
adjustments that improve the effectiveness of training courses. Taken 
together, these oversight and review actions should lead to significant 
improvements in compliance and the overall quality of training 
programs. The recording of oversight, and the identification of problem 
areas, is intended to compel each employer to focus on how a training 
course can be improved to place greater emphasis on the causes of such 
non-compliance.
    Paragraph (a) contains the general periodic oversight provision and 
limits the required testing and inspection oversight to the Federal 
railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders particular to FRA-
regulated personal and work group safety. The Federal railroad safety 
laws, regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and 
work group safety that FRA is referring to are currently limited to 49 
CFR part 214 (Railroad Workplace Safety), part 218 (Railroad Operating 
Practices), and part 220 (Railroad Communications). These particular 
compliance issues are not currently required to be as closely monitored 
as train movements and other railroad operations. For that reason, FRA 
would like to close that gap and have employers more closely monitor 
the activities of largely maintenance-of-way, signal, and operations 
personnel (who are not conductors or locomotive engineers, see Sec.  
243.205(b)) that are required to abide by the listed regulations 
related to FRA-regulated personal and work group safety. Thus, this 
section does not impose periodic oversight requirements for each and 
every Federal railroad safety law, regulation, and order that the 
training program required by Sec.  243.101 covers.
    Periodic oversight means regularly conducting both tests and 
inspections. In this context, a test is conducted by a qualified 
supervisor who changes the work environment so that one or more 
employees would need to act to prevent non-compliance. An inspection 
involves a qualified supervisor observing one or more employees at a 
job site and determining whether the employees are in compliance.
    Paragraph (b) exempts railroads from conducting periodic oversight 
under this part on certified locomotive engineers and conductors as 
those safety-related railroad employees are already covered by similar 
requirements found elsewhere in this chapter.
    Although only paragraph (c) contains the heading ``[r]ailroad 
oversight,'' paragraphs (c) through (f) need to be read together in 
order to fully understand the responsibilities for each railroad as it 
performs oversight. Generally, a railroad is required to provide 
periodic oversight tests and inspections for the safety-related 
railroad employees that it authorizes to perform safety-related duties 
on its property. Paragraph (c) lists several exceptions to this general 
rule.
    Paragraph (d) limits a railroad's requirement to conduct periodic 
oversight of a contractor's employees. In situations where a railroad 
is obligated to conduct oversight of a contractor's employees, a 
railroad would not be required to perform operational tests of safety-
related railroad employees employed by a contractor. Please note that 
although paragraph (d) does not require a railroad to conduct 
operational tests of safety-related railroad employees employed by a 
contractor, this provision does not prohibit it either.
    Paragraph (e) provides each railroad with significant discretion to 
conduct oversight of a contractor's safety-related railroad employees 
when it is convenient for the railroad. Each railroad has the 
discretion to choose when it is convenient to conduct oversight of 
contractors. Paragraphs (e)(1) and (e)(2) suggest that a railroad may 
choose to require supervisory employees to perform oversight under 
certain conditions.
    Paragraph (f) requires that when a railroad finds evidence of 
contractor employee non-compliance during the periodic oversight it 
shall provide that employee and that employee's employer with details 
of the non-compliance. The final rule substitutes ``a railroad'' for 
``any railroad,'' but the meaning is the same as the requirement 
applies to each and every railroad that finds such evidence of a 
contractor employee's non-compliance.
    Paragraph (g) requires each contractor to conduct periodic 
oversight tests and inspections of its safety-related railroad 
employees provided that certain conditions are met. If any condition is 
not met, the contractor is exempt from being required to perform the 
oversight. For instance, in paragraph (g)(1) there is a small business 
exemption for any contractor that employs 15 or fewer safety-related 
railroad employees.
    Paragraph (h) would allow a railroad and a contractor to agree that 
the contractor will provide the periodic oversight, notwithstanding the 
requirements of this section that impose the requirements on either the 
railroad or the contractor. With that understanding, the RSAC proposed 
that in order to accept this oversight responsibility, the contractor 
would need to address in its program that the railroad has trained the 
contractor employees responsible for training and oversight. In other 
words, the contractor may accept responsibility for the oversight, but 
not until the railroad trains the contractor's supervisory employee and 
qualifies that person to do the oversight; thus, the railroad has some 
obligation to ensure that the contractor's supervisory employees are 
capable of conducting the oversight before abdicating what would 
otherwise be the railroad's responsibility.
    Paragraph (i) contains the requirements for retaining oversight 
records and paragraph (j) contains the statement that the records 
required under this section are subject to the requirements of Sec.  
243.203, which is the section containing the recordkeeping requirements 
of this part. In the NPRM, FRA requested comments on whether paragraph 
(j) is necessary given that the requirements of Sec.  243.203 would 
apply to any records of period oversight required under this part even 
if paragraph (j) was deleted. Although FRA has not received any 
comments on this issue, FRA is retaining paragraph (j) as a reminder 
that records of periodic oversight must be retained and that without 
the paragraph some employers might not grasp that the recordkeeping 
requirements apply under these circumstances.
    FRA also sought comments on a potential scope issue that would 
allow some situations where safety-related railroad employees would not 
be subject to any oversight. Those situations would likely occur when a 
short line railroad hires a contractor with 15 or fewer safety-related 
railroad employees. It is possible that the short line railroad would 
not have the supervisors with the expertise necessary to conduct the 
oversight and the contractor would be too small to be required to do it 
themselves per the requirements of this section. As FRA did not receive 
any comments raising concerns with this scope issue, FRA has decided to 
finalize its proposal for the reasons acknowledged in the NPRM. Of 
course, if FRA receives information that supports addressing this 
issue, FRA can

[[Page 66488]]

initiate a rulemaking to amend the rule accordingly.

Section 243.207 Annual Review

    FRA has decided to keep this section of the final rule identical to 
the proposed version, except for a non-substantive change to paragraph 
(b) to clarify that this section does not apply to a railroad with less 
than 400,000 total employee work hours annually. Thus, the analysis 
provided for in the NPRM is still applicable and merely summarized 
here. Interested parties are directed to the NPRM for a more detailed 
discussion. The analysis in the NPRM can be found at 77 FR 6441-43. The 
comments received with regard to this section have been addressed in 
this analysis.
    Paragraph (a) of this section requires that each railroad with at 
least 400,000 total employee work hours per year must conduct an annual 
review in accordance with the requirements of this section. This 
section only applies to railroads except that, in accordance with 
paragraphs (a) and (f), contractors must use any information provided 
by railroads to adjust training specific to the Federal railroad safety 
laws, regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and 
work group safety. In order to address a comment suggesting proposed 
paragraph (b) seemed to include railroads with less than 400,000 total 
employee work hours per year despite the exclusion in paragraph (a), 
FRA has added a reference to this exception in an introductory phrase 
to paragraph (b). FRA anticipates that this non-substantive change will 
prevent further misunderstandings of the agency's intent.
    It is likely that most annual reviews will reveal that the current 
method of formal training covers the subject matter, but some aspect of 
the training could be improved. For example, it might be determined 
that the training could place more emphasis on compliance with one or 
more specific tasks. Greater emphasis could be placed on the task by 
increasing the amount of time covering how to perform the task and the 
problems that could be encountered when conducting the task. The course 
materials should be reviewed to see if they could be improved for 
clarity. In other instances, especially when the pattern of non-
compliance is detected in a safety-related task, adding an OJT or 
hands-on component, or adding more repetitions within the OJT or hands-
on component, may increase an employee's proficiency and lead to more 
lasting compliance. In still other instances, adding opportunities for 
individualized instruction and feedback could cut down on non-
compliance. It could also be determined that a particular instructor is 
ineffective, or some other aspect of the way the course is delivered is 
not conducive to learning.
    There are certainly a number of ways to improve training and that 
is why it is important that each person a railroad designates to 
conduct the annual review should be familiar with the training program 
filed with FRA. The rule does not mandate that the designated person in 
paragraph (c) have any specific knowledge requirements; although the 
NPRM requested comments on whether there should be any such 
requirements, FRA did not receive any comments on this issue. 
Consequently, FRA is maintaining the position it took in the proposal 
that the person designated to conduct the review will need to have 
extensive information about the training program and individual course 
material, as well as direct access to shape the methods of delivery. 
Again, the annual review is intended to effect change in how training 
is delivered to improve performance and should not be viewed as the end 
itself.
    In the NPRM, FRA explained that paragraph (f) requires that 
contractors have a duty to use any information provided by railroads to 
adjust training specific to the Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and work 
group safety. FRA solicited comments regarding this paragraph because 
FRA was concerned that it failed to address a situation in which a 
contractor disagrees with the railroad's information that a 
modification to a training program is necessary. FRA received three 
comments on this issue and all three comments took the position that 
FRA should not address such potential conflicts between a railroad and 
a contractor. The NRC, ASLRRA, and AAR were unified in their position 
that such conflicts should be handled without Federal intervention and 
during the normal course of business. As FRA does not have a strong 
rationale for addressing these potential conflicts between a railroad 
and a contractor, FRA has decided not to change the rule from the 
proposal.

Section 243.209 Railroad Maintained List of Contractors Utilized

    FRA has decided to keep this section of the final rule identical to 
the proposed version. Thus, the analysis provided for in the NPRM is 
still applicable and merely summarized here. See 77 FR 6443-44.
    One issue that was repeatedly raised during the RSAC meetings was 
that employees of contractors routinely work alongside employees of 
railroads. From an enforcement viewpoint, it is essential that FRA be 
able to identify which employees work for railroads and which for 
contractors. When an employee works for a contractor, FRA can sometimes 
find it an additional burden to figure out basic contact information 
for the contractor employer. This section is intended to require each 
railroad to maintain a list of the contractors it uses and some basic 
contact information about each of those contractors.
    With this basic information, FRA should be able to track down a 
contractor to follow-up during any audit or investigation.

Appendix A

    FRA did not publish a proposed penalty schedule because such 
penalty schedules are statements of policy, and thus notice and comment 
are not required prior to their issuance. See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(A). 
FRA has published similar penalty schedules in each of its existing 
rules and this practice is described in 49 CFR part 209, appendix A, 
under the heading ``Penalty Schedules: Assessment of Maximum 
Penalties.'' The schedule is intended to set penalty levels 
commensurate with the severity of the violation for typical violations, 
whether willful or non-willful. Of course, the penalty schedule does 
not constrict the agency's authority to issue a penalty anywhere in the 
range from the statutory minimum amount to the statutory maximum 
amount.
    In the NPRM, FRA reminded interested parties that they were welcome 
to submit their views on what penalties may be appropriate. FRA 
received three comments requesting that FRA adopt a penalty schedule at 
the lowest or lower range of possible penalties. Each commenter 
expressed a different reason why low penalties in the schedule are 
warranted.
    ASLRRA asked that FRA adopt a penalty schedule at the lowest range 
of possible penalties which reflects the low threat to safety which 
training rule infractions represent. ASLRRA is concerned that onerous 
penalties against small railroads for recordkeeping and procedural 
errors will waste resources when few of those types of non-complying 
conditions are likely to have a direct, adverse, or serious consequence 
on the immediate safety to employees or the public. In response, it 
should be noted that regardless of recommended standard penalties in a 
schedule, FRA is always

[[Page 66489]]

free to adjust penalties for small entities based on ability to pay and 
a variety of mitigating factors. See 49 CFR part 209, appendix C.
    AAR urged FRA to adopt a penalty schedule with the potential 
penalties at the lower end of the penalty ranges normally found in 
FRA's penalty schedules. AAR argues that it is extremely unlikely that 
violations of the training requirements would lead directly to 
accidents. Furthermore, AAR stated that the railroads already have a 
record of providing sufficient training to their employees. In 
response, FRA acknowledges AAR's position and believes it has been 
taken into account in the penalty schedule. Of course, there are many 
other factors to consider in creating this penalty schedule. For 
example, some penalties may be geared towards one-time violations when 
others are for systemic issues; in that case, it may be appropriate to 
propose higher penalties on average for systemic non-compliance than a 
violation involving a single occurrence. FRA has also considered that 
gaps in training or ineffective training are often found to be 
contributing causes to accidents/incidents.
    NRC urges FRA to adopt a penalty schedule with the potential 
penalties on the lowest end of the penalty ranges normally found in 
FRA's penalty schedules in order to consider the ``unprecedented level 
of direct interaction between the FRA and hundreds of rail contractors 
that have little previous experience being directly regulated by a 
federal agency.'' Again, FRA appreciates the comment and can make 
adjustments to assessed penalties on a case-by-case basis depending on 
the totality of the legal and factual circumstances. Contractors 
unfamiliar with FRA's civil penalty process should consult 49 CFR part 
209, appendix A for a description of that process and the factors FRA 
considers when deciding the amount or the appropriateness of any 
penalty. FRA also understands that NRC's comment refers to the fact 
that FRA is an active enforcement agency that conducts inspections and 
audits of regulated entities on a continual basis, not just when an 
accident/incident occurs. Some rail contractors may be more familiar 
with other Federal agencies that rarely are quite as active as FRA in 
that regard. Despite the truth to NRC's comment that some contractors 
may not have experience with an active Federal enforcement agency, FRA 
does not agree that the penalty schedule amounts should be adjusted 
lower to account for employers that lack that experience.

VII. Regulatory Impact and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    This final rule is a significant regulatory action within the 
meaning of Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and the U.S. 
Department of Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures (DOT 
Order 2100.5 dated May 22, 1980; 44 FR 11034, Feb. 26, 1979). FRA has 
prepared and placed in the docket a regulatory impact analysis (RIA) 
addressing the economic impact of this final rule.
    The RIA details estimates of the costs likely to occur over the 
first twenty years after its effective date and a breakeven analysis 
that details the reductions in relevant railroad accidents and 
incidents that will be necessary for the final rule to breakeven in the 
same timeframe. Informed by its analysis of the economic effects of 
this final rule, FRA believes that this final rule will result in 
positive net benefits. FRA believes the final rule will achieve 
positive net benefits primarily through requiring that training 
programs include ``hands-on'' training components, such as OJT, 
simulation, and lab training,\6\ which scientific literature has shown 
to be much more effective at reducing railroad accidents and incidents 
than traditional training.\7\ The costs that will be induced by this 
final rule over the twenty-year period considered include: the costs of 
revising training programs to include ``hands-on'' training where 
appropriate, as well as the costs of creating entirely new training 
programs for any employer that does not have one already; the costs of 
customizing model training programs for those employers that choose to 
adopt a model program rather than create a new program; the costs of 
annual data review and analysis required in order to constantly improve 
training programs; the costs of revising programs in later years; the 
costs of additional time new employees may have to spend in initial 
training; the costs of additional periodic oversight tests and 
inspections; the costs of additional qualification tests; and the costs 
of additional time all safety-related railroad employees may have to 
spend in refresher training. (FRA has accounted for additional costs 
that were not addressed in the NPRM including: hiring new trainers and 
indoctrinating them into the railroad training programs; filing 
documentation on programs to FRA; and hosting visits of FRA officials 
to review training programs.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ Hands-on training is generally used by instructors/trainers 
to re-enforce new skills to the learner. Hands-on can be a simulated 
exercise in a laboratory, classroom, or it can be used in the actual 
work environment similar to OJT. Hands-on activity enables the 
trainer/instructor to objectively assess learning transfer based on 
successful completion of the task to be performed.
    \7\ For a review and citation information of this scientific 
literature, please see the Regulatory Impact Analysis that 
accompanies this final rule and that has been placed in the docket.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In analyzing the final rule, FRA has applied updated ``Guidance on 
the Economic Value of a Statistical Life in US Department of 
Transportation Analyses,'' March 2013. This policy updates the Value of 
a Statistical Life (VSL) from $6.2 million to $9.1 million and revises 
guidance used to compute benefits based on injury and fatality 
avoidance in each year of the analysis based on forecasts from the 
Congressional Budget Office of a 1.07% annual growth rate in median 
real wages over the next 30 years (2013-2043). FRA also adjusted wage 
based labor costs in each year of the analysis accordingly. Real wages 
represent the purchasing power of nominal wages. Non-wage inputs are 
not impacted. The primary cost and benefit drivers for this RIA are 
labor costs and avoided injuries and fatalities, both of which in turn 
depend on wage rates.
    Based on the 2013 VSL DOT guidance and CBO wage forecast, the total 
non-discounted cost of the final rule over the 20-year period analyzed 
is approximately $389.9 million. Present discounted costs evaluated 
over the first 20 years of the final rule total about $290.9 million at 
a 3% discount rate and about $207.1 million at a 7% discount rate.
    The annualized costs are $26,201,913 at a 3% discount rate and 
$36,796,090 at a 7% discount rate.
    FRA has performed a break-even analysis for this final rule. FRA 
expects that improving training primarily by requiring the inclusion 
and implementation of ``hands-on'' elements where appropriate will 
reduce the number of relevant railroad accidents and incidents. Rather 
than assume any specific reduction will be achieved, FRA has calculated 
the percentage of relevant railroad accidents that will need to be 
prevented by this final rule to at least offset the total costs of the 
final rule. Reductions in railroad accidents will result in fatalities 
avoided, injuries avoided, and property damage avoided, all of which 
can be monetized and quantified using FRA safety data.
    The table below presents the average yearly number of accidents, 
fatalities, injuries, and property damage from relevant railroad 
accidents between 2001 and 2010.

[[Page 66490]]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                     Average monetized
                                                                                                                                   economic damages from
        Average yearly number of accidents/incidents              Average yearly         Average yearly         Average yearly          all relevant
                                                               number of fatalities    number of injuries      property damage      accidents (using VSL
                                                                                                                                      of $9.1 million)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
9,723.......................................................                    43                  7,545           $273,896,902         $1,566,480,194
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The accident/incident pool that FRA used for its analysis includes 
a wide range of events. These range from very minor and less expensive 
incidents to major accidents with multiple fatalities. An incident that 
was a result of an employee not wearing proper fall protection is an 
example of an incident that might be impacted by this rule. The more 
rigorous training (emphasized by this rule) not only focuses on 
specific safety hazards and safety behavior, it also enhances the 
overall safety culture which will affect both work safety performance 
and the quality of the safety training provided. On the higher end of 
the range, for example, are derailments and collisions between on track 
equipment.
    FRA believes that additional hands-on and refresher training will 
reduce the frequency and severity of some future accidents and 
incidents. Expected safety benefits were calculated using full accident 
costs, which are based on past accident history, the values of 
preventing future fatalities and injuries sustained, and the cost of 
property damage. (Full accident costs are determined by the number of 
fatalities and injuries multiplied by their respective prevention 
valuations, and the cost of property damage.)
    In addition to fatalities, injuries, and property damage, railroad 
accidents can result in train delay, environmental damages, evacuations 
and emergency response costs, but FRA does not have sufficient data 
with which to estimate those potential costs savings related to 
implementation of the enhanced training requirements due to this final 
rule. Human factors can also play a role in limiting the consequences 
of accidents--in other words reducing the severity of their outcomes. 
Some FRA regulations are focused on the subject of reducing human 
factor caused accidents and this final rule has the potential to result 
in improvements in this area as well.
    Using the 2013 VSL guidance, FRA estimates that this final rule 
will break even if it results in a 20-year total reduction in relevant 
railroad accidents and incidents of 4.59% using a 3% discount rate, and 
4.59% using a 7% discount rate. These are the official break-even 
percentages. Safety regulations have already achieved significant 
results, while the industry has increased freight and passenger 
traffic, total number of trains, and employee hours worked. However, 
all of these statistics are on an upward trend with very little 
increase in track miles (i.e., density ever increasing, creating an 
environment where the probability of an accident is higher). FRA 
believes that this comprehensive rule that improves the safety behavior 
of safety-related employees in the industry should achieve the results 
as stated above. The table below shows the total present discounted 
annual costs of relevant railroad accidents and incidents that would 
likely be incurred over the next 20 years without this final rule, as 
well as the percent reduction in relevant railroad accidents and 
incidents that will be necessary for the accident reduction benefits to 
justify implementation of the final rule. This corresponds to 
approximately 118 accidents and incidents per year on average over the 
20-year period that would have to be avoided for this rule to break 
even. This potential reduction of 118 accidents and incidents would 
likely involve relatively more employee fatality or injury incidents 
resulting while carrying out work duties (as compared to train 
accidents). Another way this final rule would break even is by 
preventing 1 fatality and 86 injuries per year. These injuries would 
likely be comprised of a few severe injuries and many minor injuries. 
These calculations take into account various other recent and 
concurrent initiatives to address railroad accidents and incidents 
including implementation of positive train control systems, revisions 
to hours of service regulations, development of conductor certification 
standards and a roadway worker protection rule, and implementation of 
programs to address fatigue and electronic device distraction, among 
others.
    The following table summarizes estimates using the revised DOT 
guidance and CBO real wage rate forecasts.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Present value of                                                              Present value of
    potential annual            Total present         Percent reduction for       potential annual           Total present        Percent reduction for
 benefits  (3% discount     discounted costs  (3%    breakeven  (3% discount   benefits  (7% discount    discounted costs  (7%   breakeven  (7% discount
          rate)                discount rate)                 rate)                     rate)                discount rate)               rate)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      $6,333,998,623              $290,932,418                     4.59%            $4,507,378,459              $207,068,184                    4.59%
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With the 2013 VSL policy, DOT also recommended a sensitivity 
analysis be considered using VSL of $5.2 million and $12.9 million. 
Using a VSL of $5.2 million, FRA estimates that this final rule will 
break even if it results in a 20-year total reduction in relevant 
railroad accidents and incidents of 7.18% using a 3% discount rate, and 
7.18% using a 7% discount rate. Using a VSL of $12.9 million, FRA 
estimates that this final rule will break even if it results in a 20-
year total reduction in relevant railroad accidents and incidents of 
3.41% using a 3% discount rate, and 3.41% using a 7% discount rate.
    For comparability purposes, FRA has also provided below the costs 
and benefits, as calculated and using the same real wage and VSL 
assumptions used in the NPRM--assuming no changes in real wage rates 
for the period of the analysis, using a VSL of $6.2 million, which 
reflected DOT guidance at the time, and in 2010 dollars.
    Using this methodology, the total cost of the final rule is 
estimated to be about $261 million, discounted at a 3% rate, and about 
$186.9 million, discounted at a 7% rate. The Table below lists specific 
cost elements and each element's estimated cost over the first 20 years 
following promulgation of the final rule, as well as the total cost 
estimates.

[[Page 66491]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Twenty-year total  Twenty-year total
           Cost element                (3% discount       (7% discount
                                          rate)              rate)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Creating and revising training            $31,796,815        $26,599,026
 programs.........................
Revising programs for model
 program users:
    400,000 or more total labor               166,976            117,558
     hours annually...............
    Less than 400,000 total labor           7,654,491          5,870,184
     hours annually...............
Customizing model programs........            839,572            727,798
Designating current and future                995,974            804,215
 employees........................
Additional initial training.......         91,195,393         62,663,586
Additional refresher training.....         74,701,853         48,936,721
Additional periodic tests and              24,689,109         16,964,762
 inspections......................
Qualification testing.............         14,136,417         12,185,273
Hiring and indoctrinating                  12,209,461          9,991,110
 additional trainers..............
Other Costs (Filing, hosting FRA).          2,656,263          2,012,102
                                   -------------------------------------
    Total.........................        261,042,324        186,872,334
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Using the former methodology with a VSL of $6.2 million and no 
annual growth rate in real wages, FRA estimates that this final rule 
will break even if it results in a twenty-year total reduction in 
relevant railroad accidents and incidents of 6.07% using a 3% discount 
rate, and a 6.06% reduction using a 7% discount rate. The table below 
details the total present discounted annual costs of the final rule.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Present value of                                                              Present value of
    potential annual            Total present         Percent reduction for       potential annual           Total present        Percent reduction for
 benefits  (3% discount     discounted costs  (3%    breakeven  (3% discount   benefits  (7% discount    discounted costs  (7%   breakeven  (7% discount
          rate)                discount rate)                 rate)                     rate)                discount rate)               rate)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      $4,301,939,374              $261,042,324                     6.07%            $3,081,262,864              $186,872,334                    6.06%
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the RIA, FRA presented a sensitivity analysis using the $6.2 
million VSL. By presenting a low and high end of four main cost 
components,\8\ and varying the accident benefit reduction potential 
from other FRA regulations,\9\ a break-even range was presented. Using 
all possible combinations of the cost component options and accident 
benefit options, the lowest break-even point (at 3 percent discount 
rate) was 1.87% and the highest was 15.91%. Using a 7 percent discount 
rate, the lowest break-even point was 1.96% and the highest was 17.03%.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Cost components that were varied for the sensitivity 
analysis were: number of employers creating/revising their own 
programs, number of employers customizing programs, costs for 1.5 
days of initial training, and the amount of additional refresher 
training required per employee.
    \9\ For the sensitivity analysis, four alternate projections of 
future economic damages from relevant railroad accidents were 
presented, given alternate future reductions from other initiatives.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Given the prevalence of accidents and incidents in the railroad 
industry and the relationship between quality training and safety, FRA 
believes it is reasonable to expect that improvements in training as 
required in this final rule will yield safety benefits that will exceed 
the costs.\10\ As stated above, accident/incident reductions due to 
safety regulations have occurred even while the industry has been 
growing at a fast rate for the most part of the last decade 
(infrastructure assets, business, and people). This training standards 
final rule will improve the safety behavior of all safety-related 
employees in the industry and should achieve the results as concluded. 
The improvements to training programs is expected to produce employees 
who are more highly qualified, and therefore better able to avoid or 
prevent accidents and incidents, even in an environment that has more 
employees, passengers, work activities, and assets operated.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ To further indicate the reasonableness of this analysis, 
FRA has removed other regulatory impact results so no double-
counting of accident/incident reductions from other regulations are 
represented here. These benefits solely reflect training standards 
results.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 13272; Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Assessment

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) and Executive 
Order 13272 require a review of proposed and final rules to assess 
their impacts on small entities. An agency must prepare an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) unless it determines and 
certifies that a rule, if promulgated, would not have a significant 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. During the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) stage, FRA had not determined whether the 
proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. Therefore, FRA published an IRFA to aid the 
public in commenting on the potential small business impacts of the 
proposals in the NPRM. All interested parties were invited to submit 
data and information regarding the potential economic impact that would 
result from adoption of the proposals in the NPRM.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act also requires an agency to conduct a 
final regulatory flexibility assessment (FRFA) unless it determines and 
certifies that a rule is not expected to have a significant impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. FRA is not able to certify that 
the final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. FRA received comments and data 
from several commenters on the IRFA, and that information was used to 
make this determination. Therefore, FRA will publish this FRFA and 
issue a guidance document that includes small entities.
    FRA estimates that approximately 10% of the total cost of this 
rulemaking (see the regulatory impact analysis (RIA)) will be borne by 
small entities. This burden is because more small railroads will have 
to enhance, upgrade, or modify their current training programs. It is 
important to note that, in general, the typical small railroad is a 
less complex operation and has an average of only 21 employees. Small 
railroads do not have as many layers of supervision; therefore, 
revising or implementing programs can be done more quickly and 
efficiently than in larger railroads.
    This final rule also mandates that each railroad have an approved 
training

[[Page 66492]]

program, but the training program is only applicable to federally 
mandated training requirements. Therefore, the training program, its 
requirements, and implications do not cover other training that a 
railroad provides or initiates for other purposes.
    FRA provides the rationale the agency used for assessing what 
impacts will be borne by small entities. FRA considered comments 
received in the public comment process when making a determination in 
the FRFA.
    This FRFA was developed in accordance with the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act.
    (1) A succinct statement of the need for and objectives of the 
rule.
    FRA is addressing the RSIA's statutory mandate to establish minimum 
training standards for safety-related railroad employees and the 
submission of training plans in this rulemaking. FRA is requiring that 
each employer of one or more safety-related railroad employees (whether 
the employer is a railroad, contractor, or subcontractor) be required 
to train and qualify each such employee on the Federal railroad safety 
laws, regulations, and orders that the employee is required to comply 
with, as well as any relevant railroad rules and procedures promulgated 
to implement those Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and 
orders. The final rule also requires that the training program 
developed by each employer be submitted to FRA for approval.
    The scientific literature on training in general and FRA's 
experience with training in the railroad industry show a clear link 
between the quality of training programs--including whether training is 
engaging or hands-on--and safety. Please see the RIA for a more 
detailed discussion and references for the scientific literature.
    Even though rail transportation in the United States is generally 
an extremely safe mode of transportation and rail safety has improved 
over the years, well-designed training programs have the potential to 
further reduce risk in the railroad environment. All of the positive 
impacts noted above would apply to expected results from enhanced 
training in the railroad industry, and the work force performing job 
tasks more efficiently, skillfully, and more safely. The main goal of 
this rulemaking is to improve railroad safety by ensuring that safety-
related employees receive appropriate training that takes into 
consideration the type of activities they perform and analysis of 
relevant data.
    (2) A summary of the significant issues raised by the public 
comments in response to the IRFA, a summary of the assessment of the 
agency of such issues, and a statement of any changes made to the 
proposed rule as a result of such comments.
    Several comments were received that directly addressed the IRFA or 
the impacts on small entities. One commenter (ASLRRA) disagreed with 
FRA's RIA for the NPRM. ASLRRA also believed that this rulemaking would 
have a significant economic impact on the small railroad industry.
(a) Training Program Approval
    ASLRRA noted that ``further aggravating the potential cost 
disadvantage for small railroads is the threat by FRA in the proposed 
rule to scrutinize more intensely the training programs of small 
railroads that primarily conduct their own training. (77 FR 6430). 
Railroads that otherwise might have perfectly adequate in-house safety 
programs may turn to more costly alternatives out of fear of being 
subject to extensive and distracting audits from FRA just because they 
are small. There are many reasons that small railroads may evaluate in 
deciding whether or not to conduct their own training programs or use 
outside resources . . . . FRA should allow the railroads to make the 
most rational economic and operating decision according to their 
individual circumstances and not intimidate them into choosing a more 
costly option if they would not otherwise do so.'' FRA believes that 
the level of scrutiny that any railroad's training program will receive 
will be based on a number of risk factors. The comment did not include 
FRA's explanation in the proposed rule that the reason to more closely 
scrutinize a small railroad that chooses to conduct all of its own 
training is because a small railroad ``would not always have qualified 
instructors to implement all the different types of training required 
by the Federal laws, regulations, and orders.'' Thus, FRA's example in 
the proposed rule focused on the situation where a shortline's training 
program appears legally sufficient at first glance, but unless the 
shortline has taken affirmative steps to train or hire qualified 
instructors, the shortline is unlikely to be able to fully implement 
its program. FRA recognizes that this issue could still potentially be 
a concern that it considers in its review of programs, as we want to 
put all railroads on notice that they must both adopt and comply with 
the training program submitted to FRA. However, when it comes to the 
amount of scrutiny FRA gives each program, FRA will certainly be 
looking at other factors that are more directly related to safety 
concerns and a greater level of scrutiny will be placed on the 
particular risks inherent in a particular employer's operation. For 
example, a small railroad operation that is relatively segregated from 
major railroad operations and only operates in rural areas may pose 
less risk than those that routinely interchange with major railroads or 
operate through more populated suburbs and urban neighborhoods. If a 
simple railroad operation with low risk has a good history complying 
with FRA's regulations, FRA may view in-house training more favorably, 
as long as the railroad's program meets the minimum requirements of the 
final rule. Meanwhile, if a small railroad has a relatively complicated 
operation that poses significant risks to employees and the general 
public, FRA would certainly be justified to more closely scrutinize the 
in-house training for that operation; especially if the railroad does 
not have a good history of railroad safety law compliance. Other risk 
factors FRA may consider including, but are certainly not limited to, 
are the employer's accident history, the condition of the railroad's 
track and equipment, the types of commodities hauled, and the number of 
train miles operated annually.
    Although each employer may be better suited than FRA to identify 
the weaknesses in its existing training program and to seek ways to 
strengthen those components, FRA has the expertise to also make such 
judgments. FRA understands that changing a training program will have 
costs associated with it, and the agency intends to only request 
training adjustments that will positively impact safety. FRA will not 
require training program changes that would force an entity to exceed 
the minimum requirements for compliance. Finally, small entities should 
expect that FRA will consult with the entity in order to receive 
constructive input prior to ordering any programmatic changes. 
Therefore, the process FRA envisions is expected to engage any size 
entity in a discussion of any FRA-perceived weaknesses in a training 
program before FRA issues a decision that the entity's program is 
inadequate and must be upgraded.
    FRA also notes that each employer's training program will not be 
reviewed by an FRA field inspector. FRA will have a specific group of 
safety specialists designated, trained, and responsible for reviewing 
and approving the training programs. Local or regional FRA personnel 
will not be authorized to conduct random audits without the involvement 
of FRA's specialized training staff, which should lead to a uniform 
approach to enforcement of this

[[Page 66493]]

rule. Small railroads will generally not be subject to intrusive or 
distracting audits as some might be concerned, unless one of three 
events occur: (1) A major accident or fatality occurs on that 
railroad's property; (2) a complaint is filed with FRA from an employee 
or other entity alleging noncompliance with respect to the mandates of 
this part; or (3) a pattern of incidents industry wide raises a 
training concern attributable to multiple small railroads with certain 
similar characteristics. In summary, FRA is unlikely to initiate 
enforcement activities to find weaknesses in a small entity's training 
program unless there is some basis that raises a specific concern.
    FRA does not agree with ASLRRA's comment suggesting that small 
railroads will be intimidated into providing unneeded costly training. 
FRA fully intends to offer to enter into a constructive dialog with any 
employer whose training program is found to be deficient. In each 
instance, FRA fully expects that there will be more than one option to 
correct a training deficiency and that it will be up to the employer to 
choose those options. Because FRA will review all the training 
programs, FRA may have some recommended options for addressing any 
training program deficiency. Meanwhile, just like any other business 
decision, there will be pros and cons to every option. For example, 
some options may be proven effective, but cost more than a lesser-used 
option. Although FRA will have the authority to reject unsuitable 
options that fail to meet the minimum requirements of this part, FRA 
will not otherwise reject less expensive options and impose additional 
costs on any employer.
(b) Annual Review Exemption
    ASLRRA also noted ``Section 243.207(a) expressly grants an 
exemption from the annual review requirement for a railroad with fewer 
than 400,000 total employee work hours annually. Paragraph (b) then 
states that any railroad required to conduct periodic oversight under 
section 243.205 is also required to conduct an annual review.'' ASLRRA 
requested clarification of who is exempt from the annual review 
requirement.
    FRA addressed this issue by adding the exemption language as an 
introductory phrase to 49 CFR 243.207(b). Paragraph (b) now reads: 
``[e]xcept as provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, each 
railroad that is required to conduct periodic oversight in accordance 
with Sec.  243.205 is also required to conduct an annual review, as 
provided in this section, and shall retain, at its system headquarters, 
one copy of the written annual review'' (italicized emphasis added). As 
noted in the preamble above, FRA did not change the intent of paragraph 
(b) of this section but, by adding the exception language, it did 
clarify that this section does not apply to railroads with less than 
400,000 total employee work hours annually. FRA anticipates that this 
non-substantive change will prevent further misunderstandings of the 
agency's intent.
    FRA also notes that the final rule requires all railroads and most 
contractors to conduct periodic oversight, per Sec.  243.205. A 
contractor would be exempt from the periodic oversight requirements if 
it (1) employs 15 or fewer employees; (2) does not rely on training it 
directly provides to its own employees as the basis for qualifying 
those employees to perform safety-related duties on a railroad; or (3) 
does not employ supervisory safety-related railroad employees capable 
of performing oversight. Periodic oversight is limited to Federal 
regulations associated with FRA-regulated personal and work group 
safety currently in parts 214, 218, and 220. Periodic oversight does 
not apply to employees covered by parts 240 and 242, but information 
gained (performance gaps) from those assessments must be used when 
appropriate in training programs to close performance gaps.
(c) Impact on Railroads That Have Less Than 16 Employees
    One commenter was concerned ``that this proposed rule will 
adversely affect the smallest railroads, in particular railroads that 
have less than 16 employees, these railroads do not have the resources 
for training like a Class I or even larger Class III railroads that 
typically send a new hire to a central location for 6 weeks of initial 
training. The smallest railroads initial training is almost always a 
one-on-one, on-the-job training with the person who does the hiring. 
Ongoing training is most often addressed at an annual rules class or 
frequently provided to an employee with an impromptu training session 
when incorrect behavior/technique is observed. How these smallest 
railroads document the training they do to the satisfaction of the FRA 
will be problematic.'' The commenter indicated that it believed small 
railroads should be allowed to continue the status quo with a training 
program centered on an annual rules class and informal on-the-job 
training (OJT) that is completed without any recordkeeping of what 
safety-related tasks and information were learned.
    This final rule is being promulgated to satisfy statutory 
requirements in the RSIA to establish minimum training standards for 
safety-related railroad employees. The statute does not explicitly 
exempt small entities from the requirements, nor does it suggest that 
FRA could permit a small entity exemption. Therefore, FRA believes it 
was Congress's intent to include small entities as that statute focuses 
on the training of each employee, not each employee that works only for 
a major railroad or large contractor.
    FRA agrees with the commenter that the rule will require more than 
what most small railroads were doing prior to the promulgation of this 
rule. The final rule will require that a small railroad submit a formal 
training program where none likely existed before; however, FRA expects 
that most small railroads will adopt and comply with a model training 
program that is largely written by an association that understands the 
Federal requirements and can devise a broad program suitable for the 
flexibility needed by most small railroads. Many small railroads may 
continue to train employees largely in the same manner by periodically 
providing a rules class and training through OJT. However, the OJT will 
need to meet the standards of ``formal training,'' as that term is 
defined in the rule, and it is that formality that will raise the 
standards from one in which a supervisor believes the employee should 
know how to do the safety-related task to one in which the supervisor 
knows and has a record to support that the employee has demonstrated 
the knowledge and ability to perform the task. The extra time necessary 
for a qualified supervisor or instructor to record what training the 
employee has accomplished and to retain that record should not add 
significantly to the cost of the previously unrecorded OJT. Some 
instructors may spend more time instructing and observing employees 
conduct federally mandated tasks than what was being performed prior to 
the promulgation of this rule, but FRA views that alleged additional 
burden as a flaw in the execution of current training programs that 
should not be tolerated by the employer. An employer should not be 
permitted to claim that this final rule adds costs for training if the 
employer is currently not meeting the minimum requirements for the 
pertinent federally mandated employee training. It is for this very 
reason that formalized training programs and records are necessary--
that is, to compel all employers of safety-related railroad employees 
to provide

[[Page 66494]]

appropriate training that can be measured as having been successfully 
administered.
(d) Compliance Guide
    One commenter suggested that FRA ``issue a compliance guide, 
specifically to railroads that have 15 or less safety-related railroad 
employees, (as contemplated in 49 CFR part 209, appendix C).'' As noted 
previously, FRA intends to publish an interim final compliance guide 
early in 2015. By characterizing the guidance as ``interim final,'' the 
guidance will be effective immediately, but signal that FRA is willing 
to consider amending the guidance based on comments received. 
Consequently, FRA will provide a 60-day comment period and intends to 
issue a notice for the final guidance by no later than one year from 
the date of issuance of the interim final guidance. FRA also amended 
the proposal so that small entities will have at least four years from 
the date of issuance of the interim final compliance guide to implement 
a training program under Sec.  243.101(a)(2) and at least four years 
and eight months from the date of issuance of the interim final 
compliance guide to designate existing employees under Sec.  
243.201(a)(2).
    FRA's compliance guide is intended to aid employers by providing 
the task inventories that provide the foundation of the OJT program. 
The compliance guide can be used by all employers, but will be written 
with a primary emphasis on assisting small entities. The task 
inventories will be presented in a format that is highly respected in 
the adult training community, and will be modeled after training 
formats FRA's master trainers use to train FRA personnel. The guide 
will address each major type of safety-related railroad employee 
category. It will explain the roles and responsibilities for those 
administering the program, as well as the trainees and trainers. Duties 
will be identified by the performance task that the employee is 
supposed to be able to do. The guide will help identify the preparation 
that trainers will have to take in order to make sure that the 
conditions are conducive for learning. For example, trainers will 
ensure that trainees have all the tools, equipment, and documents 
needed to practice the task. Furthermore, the guide will help establish 
standards for establishing when a trainee has demonstrated proficiency. 
Such standards are generally based on repetition, the completeness, and 
the percentage of accuracy. These factors for establishing standards 
will be driven by the complexity of the related task.
(e) Implementation and Program Submission Date for Small Railroads
    One commenter thought that FRA should push back the ``deadline for 
an employer submission by at least one year after the submission 
deadline for an organization that allows other entities to copy its 
program to at a reasonable cost.'' FRA agrees that the comment has 
validity and would make the implementation of the rule much smoother. 
Therefore, FRA addressed this comment by extending the implementation 
deadline schedule in multiple ways. A summary of the changes made in 
response to this comment and similar comments can be found in the 
preamble under the heading ``Implementation Dates and Incentives for 
Early Filing of Programs.''
(f) Number of Contractors Considered To Be Small Entities
    One commenter responded to FRA's request for comment on the number 
of small contractors impacted by this rule. The National Railroad 
Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) responded that FRA's 
estimates appear reasonable. This commenter further noted that it was 
their understanding that ``the 600+ other contractors generally consist 
of extremely small companies, some of which may be more accurately 
thought of as `two guys and a pickup truck,' however the NRC is not 
aware of any comprehensive listing of these small companies.''
(g) Impact on Commuter Operations
    APTA noted in its comment that most ``of the public agencies 
providing commuter rail services are small entities and contract all or 
a significant amount of the operations to one or more specialized rail 
service contractors. The contracts typically specify that any training 
or qualifications, for example to meet FRA regulations, is the 
responsibility of the contractor. These types of public agencies would 
not be knowledgeable on training costs or in a position to estimate 
their cost to develop and implement a training program of this type. 
Contracting out the entire training program or adopting a model program 
with input from their contractors would likely be a solution for the 
small operators. For most, contracting out the entire training program 
would be prohibitively expensive for a small entity.''
    By FRA's definition of a small entity, only two commuter railroads 
would be considered to be small entities, which represent approximately 
8% of the total number of commuter railroads. (See FRA policy on small 
entities at 68 FR 24891 (May 9, 2003)). These two entities are very 
different from all of the other commuter railroads. They are primarily 
event- or seasonal destination-based passenger rail transportation 
(e.g., scheduled service to sporting events). One of the two entities 
is primarily contracted by a university to operate trains to football 
games. Therefore, all of the train and engine crew training would be 
conducted by a Class III railroad, which should currently be compliant 
with all federally mandated training. The function of the conductors is 
carried out by volunteers who should also be compliant with part 242. 
The additional burden from this final rule should only be from the 
adoption of a model training program and not significant. The second 
small entity that is classified as a commuter operation is owned by a 
larger holding company. This entity began operation in 2011, running 
trains Friday through Monday primarily for racetrack attendees. The 
entity does operate year round with activities that include seasonal 
ski trains. From site visits, FRA believes this second small entity is 
also compliant with all federally mandated training requirements. This 
railroad is an expanding operation that had made all necessary efforts 
to be compliant with FRA regulations. The additional burden for this 
entity should also only be from the adoption of a model training 
program and any necessary modifications.
(3) A Description and an Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to 
Which the Rule Will Apply or an Explanation of Why No Such Estimate is 
Available
    ``Small entity'' is defined in 5 U.S.C. 601 (Section 601). Section 
601(3) defines a small entity as having the same meaning as ``small 
business concern'' under Section 3 of the Small Business Act. This 
includes any small business concern that is independently owned and 
operated, and is not dominant in its field of operation. Section 601(4) 
includes within the definition of small entities not-for-profit 
enterprises that are independently owned and operated, and are not 
dominant in their fields of operation. Additionally, Section 601(5) 
defines small entities as governments of cities, counties, towns, 
townships, villages, school districts, or special districts with 
populations less than 50,000. The U.S. Small Business Administration 
(SBA) stipulates in its size standards that the largest a railroad 
business firm that is for-profit may be, and still be classified as a 
small entity, is 1,500 employees for ``line haul operating railroads'' 
and 500

[[Page 66495]]

employees for ``switching and terminal establishments.''
    Federal agencies may adopt their own size standards for small 
entities in consultation with SBA and in conjunction with public 
comment. Pursuant to that authority, FRA has published a final policy 
that formally establishes small entities as railroads that meet the 
line haulage revenue requirements of a Class III railroad.\11\ The 
revenue requirements are currently $20 million or less in annual 
operating revenue. The $20 million limit (which is adjusted by applying 
the railroad revenue deflator adjustment) \12\ is based on the Surface 
Transportation Board's (STB) threshold for a Class III railroad 
carrier. FRA is using the STB's threshold in its definition of small 
entities for railroads affected by this rule. FRA has also adopted the 
STB threshold for Class III railroad carriers as the size standard for 
railroad contractors.\13\ FRA estimates that 720 railroads will be 
affected by this final rule. This number equals the number of railroads 
that reported to FRA in 2011, minus those railroads that are tourist, 
scenic, excursion, or historic railroads and are not part of the 
general system (these railroads are exempt from the rule). Of those 
railroads, 44 are Class I, Class II, commuter, and intercity passenger 
railroads. The remaining 676 railroads are therefore assumed to be 
small railroads for the purpose of this assessment. It is important to 
note that in the RIA for the final rule, FRA has not revised the number 
of railroads used in these analyses to provide better transparency in 
the comparison of the analyses for the NPRM and the final rule. The 
final rule will affect all employers of safety-related railroad 
employees, which, in addition to railroads of all sizes, includes 
contractors and subcontractors who are engaged to perform safety-
related duties on railroads. FRA assumes in its RIA that approximately 
795 railroad contractors and subcontractors exist, based on 
conversations with industry experts. That figure of 795 includes 155 
well-established track and signal maintenance contractors, 500 very 
small (1-4 employee companies) or relatively new track and signal 
maintenance contractors, and another 140 contractors who do not perform 
track or signal maintenance. FRA has previously clarified its 
definition of small entity with respect to contractors, stating that 
FRA defines railroad contractors that meet the income level established 
for Class III railroads as small entities. For the purpose of this 
analysis, FRA conservatively assumes that about 10 of these contractors 
have annual revenues in excess of $20 million, leaving 785 contractors 
that are considered small entities that may be affected by this 
proposed rule. FRA requested comments on this assumption and any 
information regarding the number of small contractors affected by this 
proposal. As noted above, FRA did receive one comment on this estimate 
and is using it for the purpose of this analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ See 68 FR 24891 (May 9, 2003); 49 CFR part 209, appendix C.
    \12\ For further information on the calculation of the specific 
dollar limit, please see 49 CFR part 1201.
    \13\ See 68 FR 24891 (May 9, 2003).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Therefore, the total estimate of the number of small entities that 
the rule may affect equals 676 Class III railroads plus approximately 
785 contractors, totaling approximately 1,459 entities. All but 6 of 
the 676 Class III railroads have less than 400,000 annual employee 
hours. Most contractors are businesses with less than 400,000 hours as 
well.
(4) A Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements of the Rule, Including an Estimate of the 
Classes of Small Entities That Will Be Subject to the Requirement and 
the Type of Professional Skills Necessary for Preparation of the Report 
or Record
    The final rule will include several recordkeeping requirements that 
may pertain to small entities. Each employer will be required to 
maintain records that form the basis of the training and qualification 
determinations of each operator of roadway maintenance machines 
equipped with a crane that it employs. Each employer will be required 
to maintain records to demonstrate the qualification status of each 
safety-related railroad employee. Each employer that conducts periodic 
oversight in accordance with the final rule will be required to keep a 
record of the date, time, place, and result of each test or inspection. 
Each railroad using contractors to supply the railroad with safety-
related railroad employees will be required to maintain a list at its 
system headquarters with information regarding each contractor used 
unless:
    (1) The railroad qualifies each of the contractor's safety-related 
railroad employees used.
    (2) The railroad maintains the training records for each of the 
contractor's safety-related railroad employees used.
    The burden of maintaining a list of contractors is certainly 
significantly less than the burden of training each contractor employee 
and maintaining records for each contractor employee. Given the 
propensity for shortline railroads to hire smaller contractors to 
handle segments of the railroad's safety-related work (for example, 
signal or track maintenance), keeping up-to-date information regarding 
the contractors recently used is a reasonable, and not overly taxing, 
burden on small entities. FRA believes that a professional or 
administrative employee will be capable of maintaining these records.
    The final rule will require employers of safety-related railroad 
employees to submit a training program to FRA for approval. Each 
employer's training program will be required to include on-the-job 
training where appropriate and practicable. However, FRA has given 
employers the option to adopt a model program, and FRA assumes in this 
assessment that nearly all small entities will adopt model programs 
rather than hire training experts to develop a complete, unique 
program. However, for the sake of the RIA and this assessment, FRA 
assumes that any entity that adopts a model program will customize the 
model program, if necessary. FRA also assumes that such customization 
should require about 8 hours on average.
    Following the initial submission of the training program, employers 
of safety-related railroad employees will be required to revise the 
training programs, if necessary. The decision on whether to revise a 
training program would be required annually and will depend on changes 
in the workplace environment. When new laws, regulations, technologies, 
procedures, or equipment are introduced into the workplace, for 
example, it may be appropriate for training programs to be modified 
accordingly. FRA assumes in the RIA accompanying the final rule that 
some annual revision of training programs will be required every year 
for all employers of safety-related railroad employees. Furthermore, 
these annual revisions will be required to reflect the results of 
annual reviews of safety data for all entities with 400,000 or more 
total employee work hours annually. For purposes of this analysis, FRA 
assumes that four Class III railroads and three small contractors will 
surpass this threshold. One comment was received relative to it from 
the NRC, which only noted that they estimated 10 contractors had 80 or 
more employees.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ Note: a company that has 400,000 or more total employee 
work hours annually would have more than 190 employees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Specifically, as in the RIA, FRA assumes that two Class III 
railroads will choose to develop their own programs, while the 
remaining 657 Class III railroads adopt model programs. FRA

[[Page 66496]]

also believes that all 785 small contractors will adopt model programs. 
All of the hours spent creating or revising training programs are 
assumed to be incurred by training experts or craft-specific technical 
experts at a cost $56.84 per hour, which is the average wage rate in 
2010 dollars of professional and administrative employees for Class I 
railroads as reported to the STB, multiplied by 1.75 to cover 
overhead.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ For 2011, the wage rate is $59.34 per hour.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The IRFA provided a table of the cost of compliance for small 
entities. The RIA for the final rule has been revised and some of these 
cost estimates have also been revised. The revised estimates include 
small entities. In the NPRM, FRA estimated that the average railroad 
would take 160 hours to create and submit an initial program. Based on 
comments received, the RIA for the final rule now estimates that it 
would take 2,160 hours. However, that cost is an average cost estimate. 
It is estimated that Class III railroads will create their own training 
programs and FRA believes that these two small entities will spend much 
less than the average railroad. The NPRM's RIA also estimated that the 
annual revisions would take 40 hours per railroad to complete. The 
final rule's RIA now estimates that cost at 432 hours.\16\ Again, these 
two small entities will likely spend significantly less than the 
average railroad. FRA is retaining the NPRM's estimate of 8 hours for 
the average small entity to customize the model program.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ FRA initially estimated 40 hours per railroad for modifying 
training programs. In its comments to the NPRM, AAR suggested 800 
hours per railroad for this purpose. FRA revised its estimate 
substantially to 432 hours per railroad. This estimate was developed 
by using a like proportion that it had increased the time allotted 
to create training programs (now 6,480 hours per railroad over 3 
years). The details and explanation for this revised estimate can be 
found in the RIA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This final rule also did not change the NPRM's estimate of 30 hours 
for the average entity with 400,000 or more total employee work hours 
annually to perform annual review and annual revisions in subsequent 
years. FRA estimates that only four Class III railroads and three 
contractors will be affected by this requirement. For entities that 
have less than 400,000 total employee work hours annually, the RIA for 
the final rule estimates that it will take 4 hours per year to perform 
annual revisions in subsequent years past the implementation.
    While the final rule does not explicitly require any increase in 
the amount of time that must be spent in initial or refresher training, 
such increases may arise for some small entities if those entities add 
substantial amounts of OJT to training programs. Since small railroads 
usually have less formal training programs for their employees, this 
may be the case. In the RIA for the NPRM, FRA assumed that new hires 
would require 1 extra day of initial training as a result of the final 
rule, and that 1 additional hour of refresher training would be 
required on average for each employee. In the IRFA, FRA noted that it 
was not clear to what extent the cost of additional initial training--
to whatever extent that is induced by the proposed rule--would be borne 
by small entities. For the final rule, FRA has revised this estimate to 
1.5 days (12 hours) of additional training for initial training for new 
hires. For the refresher training, FRA has also revised the estimate to 
half a day (4 hours). Small entities will likely have to incur the cost 
of additional refresher training to whatever extent that will be 
required.
(5) A Description of the Steps the Agency Has Taken To Minimize the 
Significant Adverse Economic Impact on Small Entities Consistent With 
the Objectives of Applicable Statutes, Including a Statement of 
Factual, Policy, and Legal Reasons for Selecting the Alternative 
Adopted in the Final Rule, and Why Each of the Other Significant 
Alternatives to the Rule Considered by the Agency Was Rejected
    FRA is unaware of any significant alternatives that would meet the 
intent of the RSIA and that would further reduce the economic impact on 
small entities. FRA is exercising its discretion to provide the 
greatest flexibility for small entities available under the RSIA.
    The process by which this final rule was developed provided 
outreach to small entities. As noted earlier in the preamble, this 
notice was developed in consultation with industry representatives via 
the RSAC, which includes small railroad representatives. Throughout the 
development of RSAC's recommendation for this rule, FRA received input 
that focused discussions on issues specific to shortline and regional 
railroads and contractors. The discussions yielded insight into their 
concerns and this rule takes into account those concerns expressed by 
small railroads during the deliberations. Several alternatives were 
considered in the creation of this final rule in order to attempt to 
minimize the impact on small entities. FRA and the RSAC Working Group 
recognized very early on in the rulemaking recommendation process that 
small entities probably do not have training experts on staff. 
Requiring every small entity to create or revise a unique training 
program could create a disproportionate, and possibly unnecessary, 
burden on small entities because it might require the small entities to 
hire a training expert to perform the task, whereas larger railroads 
and contractors may already have training experts on staff. As an 
alternative to requiring every entity to create unique programs, FRA 
has a provision in the final rule to formalize a process for entities 
(including and especially small entities) to adopt a ``model program.'' 
FRA envisions a model program designed with modular characteristics 
reflecting best practices in training program development. Model 
programs designed in modular format will allow small entities to easily 
customize the training for their operational needs. Any organization, 
business, or association may create a model program and submit that 
model program to FRA for approval. Subsequently, any employer may then 
choose to use a model program approved by FRA, rather than create its 
own program. An employer adopting a model program need only inform FRA 
that the employer plans to use a model program, submit the unique 
identifier for the program, and include any information reflecting 
customization or deviation from the model program that the employer has 
undertaken. This alternative can significantly simplify and consolidate 
the reporting requirements of this final rule for small entities.
    The final rule's requirements with respect to periodic oversight 
also contain alternatives that were designed by FRA and the Working 
Group to limit the final rule's impact on small entities. Periodic 
oversight operational tests and inspections will be required by the 
final rule to determine if safety-related railroad employees comply 
with Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders particular 
to FRA-regulated personal and work group safety. FRA and the Working 
Group considered requiring that periodic oversight tests and 
inspections be performed by all employers of safety-related railroad 
employees. However, FRA and the Working Group also recognized that 
small entities may not employ supervisory employees who are qualified 
as safety-related railroad employees in some or all categories of 
employees. Requiring these entities to perform periodic oversight would 
necessitate that those entities expand their workforce expressly for 
that purpose. Additionally, one purpose of periodic oversight with 
respect to this rule is to determine if changes in

[[Page 66497]]

training programs are necessary to close any proficiency gaps found 
during oversight assessments. As such, it would make sense if the 
entity that performs the training of safety-related employees is also 
the entity that performs the periodic oversight tests and inspections.
    As an alternate approach designed to ensure that periodic oversight 
is useful, and to minimize the burden that would arise if small 
entities had to expand their workforce just to comply, several 
provisions are included in the final rule that limit the extent to 
which small contractors will have to conduct periodic oversight. In 
general, railroads will be responsible for performing oversight for all 
railroad employees and some oversight for contractors performing 
safety-related duties on railroad property. Railroads will not be 
required to perform operational tests of contractor employees, but 
railroads will be required to perform periodic oversight inspections of 
contractor employees performing safety-related duties on railroad 
property. However, if a contractor employs more than 15 safety-related 
railroad employees, trains its own employees, and employs supervisory 
safety-related railroad employees capable of performing oversight, the 
contractor (rather than the railroad) will be required to perform 
periodic oversight on its own employees. Contractors who meet those 
criteria may not be small entities, and contractors will only perform 
periodic oversight if the contractor relied on its own training in 
accordance with its training program and could therefore improve the 
program with the results of the oversight program. In any case, a 
railroad and contractor may voluntarily agree that the contractor will 
perform the periodic oversight.
    The requirements for periodic oversight also contain provisions 
designed to limit the impact on small railroads. First, if a contractor 
conducts its own periodic oversight, then the railroad will not be 
required to also do so. Second, railroads will not be required to 
perform operational tests of contractor employees in any case, as 
mentioned above. Third, a railroad will not be required to perform 
oversight tests or inspections for categories of a contractor's safety-
related railroad employees if the railroad does not employ supervisory 
employees who are qualified as safety-related railroad employees in 
those categories. This final exception is designed mostly with small 
entities in mind. Small railroads may maintain a very small workforce 
and hire contractors to perform most safety-related duties. Those small 
railroads that do not have supervisory employees on staff who are 
capable of performing oversight of contractor employees will therefore 
not be required to expand their workforces by hiring a supervisory 
employee trained in the safety-related duties that the contractor 
employees perform in order to perform oversight of contractor 
employees.
    FRA and the Working Group also considered alternatives for small 
entities in the section of the final rule requiring annual reviews of 
safety data. Railroads will be required, under the final rule, to 
conduct an annual review of periodic oversight data, reportable 
accident/incident data, FRA inspection report data, employee training 
feedback, and feedback received from labor representatives if 
available. However, all railroads with less than 400,000 total employee 
work hours annually will be exempt from this annual review requirement. 
FRA stated in the NPRM that it is likely that all but six Class III 
freight railroads would fall below this threshold and no comments were 
received challenging this assumption. In Sec.  243.113(a) of this final 
rule, FRA provided another alternative to decrease the impact on small 
entities. The final rule exempts any employer (approximately 653 Class 
III railroads and most contractors) with less than 400,000 total 
employee work hours annually from the requirement to file written 
program submission requirements electronically.
    In Sec.  243.101(a)(2), FRA has provided each employer with less 
than 400,000 total employee work hours annually an additional year to 
implement its training program. Therefore, instead of having to 
implement the programs by January 1, 2018, most small entities will not 
have to implement the programs until January 1, 2019, or four years 
from the date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance Guide, 
whichever is later. There should be cost savings from this delayed 
implementation. In addition, the small railroads will benefit from 
being able to observe the implementation of the larger railroads in the 
industry. The additional time will permit these small entities to 
spread out the cost of revising or modifying a model program too.
    FRA has identified no additional significant alternative to this 
final rule that satisfies the mandate of the RSIA or meets the agency's 
objective in promulgating this rule, and that would further reduce the 
economic impact of the rulemaking on small entities.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The information collection requirements in this final rule are 
being submitted for approval to the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. 
The sections that contain the current and new information collection 
requirements, and the estimated time to fulfill each requirement are as 
follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   49 CFR section or statutory          Respondent          Total annual       Average time per    Total annual
            provision                    universe            responses             response        burden  hours
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
214.357--Training and              535 railroads/       535 revised          4 hours............           2,140
 Qualification Program for          contractors.         programs.
 Operators of Roadway Maintenance
 Machines (RMM) Equipped with a
 Crane.
    --Initial Training/            17,396 roadway       1,750 tr. worker     24 hours + 4 hours.         104,584
     Qualification of RMM           workers.             +15,646 tr. wrkr.
     Operators (Cranes).
    --Periodic Training/           17,396 roadway       17,396 trained       1 hour.............          17,396
     Qualification of RMM           workers.             workers.
     Operators (Cranes).
    --Records of Training/         17,396 roadway       17,396 records.....  15 minutes.........           4,349
     Qualification.                 workers.
243.101--Training Programs         56 railroads/        16 programs........  6,480 hours........         103,680
 Submissions by Employers subject   contractors/etc.
 to this Part with 400,000 total
 annual employee work hours or
 more by Jan. 1, 2018.
    --Submissions by Employers     1,459 railroads/     486 programs.......  20 hours...........           9,720
     subject to this Part with      contractors/etc.
     less than 400,000 total
     annual work hours by Jan. 1,
     2019.
    --Submission by New Employers  5 New Railroads....  5 programs.........  40 hours...........             200
     Commencing Operations after
     Jan. 1, 2018.

[[Page 66498]]

 
    --Validation documents sent    795 railroad         50 documents.......  15 minutes.........              13
     from contractors that train    contractors/
     their own safety-related       subcontractors.
     employees to railroads that
     are using their training
     programs.
    --Copies of contractor         720 railroads......  50 copies..........  10 minutes.........               8
     validation documents kept by
     railroads.
243.103--Training Programs         1,459 railroads/     73 programs........  10 hours...........             730
 required to be modified by FRA     contractors/etc.
 due to essential missing/
 inadequate components.
243.105--Optional Model Program    1,459 railroads/     4 model training     8 hours............              32
 Development--Customized Training   contractors/etc.     programs.
 Program Submissions.
243.109--Initial Training          56 railroads/        7 programs.........  10 hours...........              70
 Programs Found Non-Conforming to   contractors/etc.
 this Part by FRA--Revisions to
 Programs.
    --Written Request to Extend    56 railroads/        1 request..........  15 minutes.........             .25
     Revision/Resubmission          contractors/etc.
     Deadline.
    --Previously Approved          56 railroads/        8 informational      432 hours..........           3,456
     Programs Requiring an          contractors/etc.     filings.
     Informational Filing When
     Modified.
    --New Portions or Substantial  56 railroads.......  25 revised programs  16 hours...........             400
     Revisions to an approved
     Training Program.
    --Training Programs found      56 railroads.......  12 rev. program....  16 hours...........             192
     Deficient.
    --Copy of Additional           56 railroads.......  225 copies.........  15 minutes.........              56
     Submissions, Resubmissions,
     and Informational Filings to
     Labor (Union) Presidents.
    --Railroad Statement           56 railroads.......  25 affirming         60 minutes.........              25
     Affirming that a copy of                            statements.
     Submissions, Resubmissions,
     or Informational Filings has
     been served to Labor (Union)
     Presidents.
    --Labor comments on Railroad   5 RR labor           3 comments.........  4 hours............              12
     Training Program               Organizations.
     Submissions, Resubmissions,
     or Informational Filings.
243.111--Written Request by        11 tr.               3 requests.........  60 minutes.........               3
 Training Organization/Learning     organizations/
 Institution Previously Providing   Learning
 Training Services to Railroads     Institutions.
 Prior to Jan. 1, 2017, to
 Provide Such Services after Jan.
 1, 2018.
    --Revised/Resubmitted          11 tr.               2 programs.........  20 hours...........              40
     Training Program by Training   organizations/
     Organization/Learning          Learning Inst.
     Institution after found
     Deficient by FRA.
    --Informational Filing by      11 tr.               1 filing...........  432 hours..........             432
     Training Organization/         organizations/
     Learning Institution due to    Learning Inst.
     New Federal Laws/Regulations/
     Order or New Technologies/
     Procedures/Equipment.
    --New Portions or Revisions    11 tr.               2 programs.........  20 hours...........              40
     to Training Organization/      organizations/
     Learning Institution           Learning Inst.
     Training Program Found
     Deficient.
    --Safety Related Employees     11 tr.               1,600 employees +    8 hours + 5 minutes          12,933
     Instructed by Training         organizations/       1,600 records.
     Organizations/Records.         Learning Inst.
    --Request to Training          11 tr.               200 requests + 200   5 minutes + 5                    34
     Organization/Learning          organizations.       records.             minutes.
     Institution by Student to     /Learning Inst.....
     Provide Transcript or Record.
243.113--Required Employer         56 RRs/contractors/  16 letters.........  15 minutes.........               4
 Information Sent to FRA Prior to   learning
 First Electronic Submission        institution.
 (Employers with 400,000 Annual    /associations......
 Work Hours or More).
243.201--Designation of Existing   56 railroads/        13 lists...........  15 minutes.........               5
 Safety-related Employees by Job    contractors.
 Category--Lists (Employer with
 400,000 Annual Work Hours or
 More).
    --Written Request to Extend    56 railroads/        3 requests.........  60 minutes.........               3
     Deadline for Designation       contractors.
     List by These Employers.
    --Designation of Existing      1,459 railroads/     486 lists..........  15 minutes.........             122
     Safety-related Employees by    contractors/etc.
     Job Category--Lists
     (Employer with Less than
     400,000 Annual Work Hours).
    --Training of Newly Hired      56 railroads/        114 trained          8 hours + 15                    941
     Employees or Those Assigned    contractors.         employees + 114      minutes.
     New Safety-related Duties                           records.
     and Records.
    --Requests for Relevant        56 railroads/        11 requests + 11     5 minutes + 5                     2
     Qualification or Training      contractors.         records.             minutes.
     Record from an Entity Other
     Than Current Employer.
    --Testing of Employees When    56 railroads/        68 tests + 68        8 hours + 30                    578
     Current Record of Training     contractors.         records.             minutes.
     is Unavailable.
    --Testing of Employees Who     56 railroads/        68 tests + 68        8 hours +..........             578
     Have Not Received Initial/     contractors.         records.            30 minutes.........
     Periodic Training or Who
     Have Not Performed the
     Necessary Safety-Related
     Duties for An Occupational
     Category or Subcategory in
     the Previous 180 Days.
243.203--Electronic                56 RRs/contractors.  20 systems.........  120 hours..........           2,400
 Recordkeeping--Systems Set Up to
 Meet FRA Requirements.
    --Transfer of Records to       56 RRs/contractors.  20 records.........  15 minutes.........               5
     Successor Employer.
243.205--Modified Training         56 railroads/        1 modified programs  40 hours...........              40
 Resulting from Periodic            contractors.
 Oversight Tests and Inspections.
    --Periodic Tests and           56 railroads/        8,600 tests/         10 minutes.........           1,433
     Inspections.                   contractors.         Insections.

[[Page 66499]]

 
    --RR Identification of         56 railroads/        10 identification..  5 minutes..........               1
     Supervisory Employees Who      contractors.
     Conduct Periodic Oversight
     Tests by Category/
     Subcategory.
    --Contractor Periodic Tests/   56 railroads/        4,695 tests/         20 minutes.........           1,565
     Inspections Conducted by RR    contractors.         inspections.
     Supervisory Employees.
    --Notification by RR of        56 railroads/        175 notices + 175    5 minutes..........              30
     Contractor Employee Non-       contractors.         notices.
     Compliance with Federal Laws/
     Regulations/Orders to
     Employee and Employee's
     Employer.
    --Contractor conduct of        11 contractors.....  795 tests/           10 minutes.........             133
     Periodic Oversight Tests/                           inspections.
     Inspections of Its Safety-
     related Employees.
    --Contractor Direct Training   11 contractors.....  45 trained           8 hours............             360
     of Its Employees for                                employees.
     Qualifying Those Employees
     to Perform Safety-related
     Duties.
    --Employer Records of          56 railroads/        5,490 records......  5 minutes..........             458
     Periodic Oversight.            contractors.
243.207--Written Annual Review of  18 railroads.......  4 reviews..........  20 hours...........              80
 Safety Data (RRs with 400,000
 Annual Employee Work Hours or
 More).
    --RR Copy of Written Annual    18 railroads.......  4 review copies....  20 minutes.........               1
     Review at System
     Headquarters.
    --RR Designation of Person(s)  18 railroads.......  48 designations....  15 minutes.........              12
     to Conduct Written Annual
     Review.
    --Adjustments to Initial/      18 railroads.......  1 adjusted program.  1 hour.............               1
     Refresher Training Based
     Upon Results of Written
     Annual Review.
    --RR Notification to           18 railroads.......  2 notifications....  15 minutes.........               1
     Contractor of Relevant
     Training Program Adjustments.
    --Contractor Adjustment of     38 contractors.....  1 adjusted program.  20 hours...........              20
     Its Training Program Based
     on RR Information.
243.209--Railroad Maintained List  56 railroads.......  11 lists...........  30 minutes.........               6
 of Contractors Utilized.
    --Updated Lists of             56 railroads.......  1 list.............  15 minutes.........             .25
     Contractors.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All estimates include the time for reviewing instructions; 
searching existing data sources; gathering or maintaining the needed 
data; and reviewing the information. For information or a copy of the 
paperwork package submitted to OMB, contact Mr. Robert Brogan at 202-
493-6292 or Ms. Kimberly Toone at 202-493-6132 or via email at the 
following addresses: [email protected]; [email protected].
    Organizations and individuals desiring to submit comments on the 
collection of information requirements should direct them to the Office 
of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 
Washington, DC 20503, Attention: FRA Desk Officer. Comments may also be 
sent via email to the Office of Management and Budget at the following 
address: [email protected].
    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of 
information requirements contained in this final rule between 30 and 60 
days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. 
Therefore, a comment to OMB is best assured of having its full effect 
if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication.
    FRA cannot impose a penalty on persons for violating information 
collection requirements which do not display a current OMB control 
number, if required. FRA intends to obtain current OMB control numbers 
for any new information collection requirements resulting from this 
rulemaking action prior to the effective date of this final rule. The 
OMB control number, when assigned, will be announced by separate notice 
in the Federal Register.

D. Federalism Implications

    Executive Order 13132, ``Federalism'' (64 FR 43255, Aug. 10, 1999), 
requires FRA to develop an accountable process to ensure ``meaningful 
and timely input by State and local officials in the development of 
regulatory policies that have federalism implications.'' ``Policies 
that have federalism implications'' are defined in the Executive Order 
to include regulations that have ``substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government.'' Under Executive Order 13132, the agency 
may not issue a regulation with federalism implications that imposes 
substantial direct compliance costs and that is not required by 
statute, unless the Federal government provides the funds necessary to 
pay the direct compliance costs incurred by State and local 
governments, the agency consults with State and local governments, or 
the agency consults with State and local government officials early in 
the process of developing the regulation. Where a regulation has 
federalism implications and preempts State law, the agency seeks to 
consult with State and local officials in the process of developing the 
regulation.
    This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132. This final rule would 
not have a substantial effect on the States or their political 
subdivisions; it would not impose any compliance costs; and it would 
not affect the relationships between the Federal government and the 
States or their political subdivisions, or the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, 
the consultation and funding requirements of Executive Order 13132 do 
not apply.
    However, this final rule could have preemptive effect by operation 
of law under certain provisions of the Federal railroad safety 
statutes, specifically the former Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, 
repealed and recodified at 49 U.S.C. 20106. Section 20106 provides that 
States may not adopt or continue in effect any law, regulation, or 
order related to railroad safety or security that covers the subject 
matter of a regulation

[[Page 66500]]

prescribed or order issued by the Secretary of Transportation (with 
respect to railroad safety matters) or the Secretary of Homeland 
Security (with respect to railroad security matters), except when the 
State law, regulation, or order qualifies under the ``essentially local 
safety or security hazard'' exception to sec. 20106.
    In sum, FRA has analyzed this final rule in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132. As 
explained above, FRA has determined that this final rule has no 
federalism implications, other than the possible preemption of State 
laws under Federal railroad safety statutes, specifically 49 U.S.C. 
20106. Accordingly, FRA has determined that preparation of a federalism 
summary impact statement for this final rule is not required.

E. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreement Act of 1979 prohibits Federal agencies from 
engaging in any standards or related activities that create unnecessary 
obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. Legitimate 
domestic objectives, such as safety, are not considered unnecessary 
obstacles. The statute also requires consideration of international 
standards and where appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. 
standards.
    This final rule is purely domestic in nature and is not expected to 
affect trade opportunities for U.S. firms doing business overseas or 
for foreign firms doing business in the United States.

F. Environmental Impact

    FRA has evaluated this rule in accordance with its ``Procedures for 
Considering Environmental Impacts'' (FRA's Procedures) (64 FR 28545, 
May 26, 1999) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), other environmental statutes, Executive Orders, 
and related regulatory requirements. FRA has determined that this final 
rule is not a major FRA action (requiring the preparation of an 
environmental impact statement or environmental assessment) because it 
is categorically excluded from detailed environmental review pursuant 
to section 4(c)(20) of FRA's Procedures. See 64 FR 28547 (May 26, 
1999).
    In accordance with section 4(c) and (e) of FRA's Procedures, the 
agency has further concluded that no extraordinary circumstances exist 
with respect to this regulation that might trigger the need for a more 
detailed environmental review. As a result, FRA finds that this final 
rule is not a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality 
of the human environment.

G. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    Pursuant to section 201 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Pub. L. 104-4, 2 U.S.C. 1531), each Federal agency ``shall, unless 
otherwise prohibited by law, assess the effects of Federal regulatory 
actions on State, local, and tribal governments, and the private sector 
(other than to the extent that such regulations incorporate 
requirements specifically set forth in law).'' Section 202 of the Act 
(2 U.S.C. 1532) further requires that ``before promulgating any general 
notice of proposed rulemaking that is likely to result in the 
promulgation of any rule that includes any Federal mandate that may 
result in expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the 
aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more (adjusted 
annually for inflation) in any 1 year, and before promulgating any 
final rule for which a general notice of proposed rulemaking was 
published, the agency shall prepare a written statement'' detailing the 
effect on State, local, and tribal governments and the private sector. 
For the year 2010, this monetary amount of $100,000,000 has been 
adjusted to $143,100,000 to account for inflation. This final rule 
would not result in the expenditure of more than $143,100,000 by the 
public sector in any one year, and thus preparation of such a statement 
is not required.

H. Energy Impact

    Executive Order 13211 requires Federal agencies to prepare a 
Statement of Energy Effects for any ``significant energy action.'' 66 
FR 28355 (May 22, 2001). Under the Executive Order, a ``significant 
energy action'' is defined as any action by an agency (normally 
published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to 
lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including 
notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices 
of proposed rulemaking: (1)(i) That is a significant regulatory action 
under Executive Order 12866 or any successor order, and (ii) is likely 
to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or 
use of energy; or (2) that is designated by the Administrator of the 
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as a significant energy 
action. FRA has evaluated this final rule in accordance with Executive 
Order 13211. FRA has determined that this final rule is not likely to 
have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use 
of energy. Consequently, FRA has determined that this final rule is not 
a ``significant energy action'' within the meaning of Executive Order 
13211.

I. Privacy Act

    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any written 
communications and comments received into any of our dockets by the 
name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the document, 
if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). 
See http://www.regulations.gov/#!privacyNotice for the privacy notice 
of regulations.gov or interested parties may review DOT's complete 
Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 
2000 (65 FR 19477).

List of Subjects

49 CFR Part 214

    Bridges, Occupational safety and health, Penalties, Railroad 
safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

49 CFR Part 232

    Railroad power brakes, Railroad safety, Two-way end-of-train 
devices.

49 CFR Part 243

    Administrative practice and procedure, Penalties, Railroad 
employees, Railroad safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The Final Rule

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, FRA amends chapter II, 
subtitle B of title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 214--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 214 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 20103, 20107, 21301, 31304, 28 U.S.C. 
2461, note; and 49 CFR 1.89.

Subpart A--General

0
2. Section 214.7 is amended by adding a definition in alphabetical 
order for roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane to read as 
follows:


Sec.  214.7  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane means any 
roadway maintenance machine equipped with a crane or boom that can 
hoist, lower, and horizontally move a suspended load.
* * * * *

[[Page 66501]]

Subpart C--Roadway Worker Protections

0
3. Section 214.341 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(2) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  214.341  Roadway maintenance machines.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) No roadway worker shall operate a roadway maintenance machine 
without having knowledge of the safety instructions applicable to that 
machine. For purposes of this paragraph, the safety instructions 
applicable to that machine means:
    (i) The manufacturer's instruction manual for that machine; or
    (ii) The safety instructions developed to replace the 
manufacturer's safety instructions when the machine has been adapted 
for a specific railroad use. Such instructions shall address all 
aspects of the safe operation of the crane and shall be as 
comprehensive as the manufacturer's safety instructions they replace.
* * * * *


0
4. Section 214.357 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  214.357  Training and qualification for operators of roadway 
maintenance machines equipped with a crane.

    (a) In addition to the general training and qualification 
requirements for operators of roadway maintenance machines set forth in 
Sec. Sec.  214.341 and 214.355 of this subpart, each employer shall 
adopt and comply with a training and qualification program for 
operators of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane to 
ensure the safe operation of such machines.
    (b) Each employer's training and qualification program for 
operators of roadway maintenance machines equipped with a crane shall 
require initial and periodic qualification of each operator of a 
roadway maintenance machine equipped with a crane and shall include:
    (1) Procedures for determining that the operator has the skills to 
safely operate each machine the person is authorized to operate; and
    (2) Procedures for determining that the operator has the knowledge 
to safely operate each machine the person is authorized to operate. 
Such procedures shall determine that either:
    (i) The operator has knowledge of the safety instructions (i.e., 
the manufacturer's instruction manual) applicable to that machine; or
    (ii) The operator has knowledge of the safety instructions 
developed to replace the manufacturer's safety instructions when the 
machine has been adapted for a specific railroad use. Such instructions 
shall address all aspects of the safe operation of the crane and shall 
be as comprehensive as the manufacturer's safety instructions they 
replace.
    (c) Each employer shall maintain records that form the basis of the 
training and qualification determinations of each operator of roadway 
maintenance machines equipped with a crane that it employs.
    (d) Availability of records: Each employer required to maintain 
records under this part shall make all records available for inspection 
and copying/photocopying to representatives of FRA, upon request during 
normal business hours.
    (e) Training conducted by an employer in accordance with operator 
qualification and certification required by the Department of Labor (29 
CFR 1926.1427) may be used to satisfy the training and qualification 
requirements of this section.

PART 232--[AMENDED]

0
5. The authority citation for part 232 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 20102-20103, 20107, 20133, 20141, 20301-
20303, 20306, 21301-21302, 31304, 28 U.S.C. 2461, note; and 49 CFR 
1.89.

Subpart C--Inspection and Testing Requirements

0
6. Section 232.203 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(6)(iv) and 
(e)(6) through (8) to read as follows:


Sec.  232.203  Training requirements.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (6) * * *
    (iv) Any combination of the training or testing contained in 
paragraphs (b)(6)(i) through (b)(6)(iii) of this section and paragraphs 
(b)(3) through (b)(5) of this section may be used to satisfy the 
training and testing requirements for an employee in accordance with 
this paragraph.
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (6) The tasks required to be performed under this part which the 
employee is deemed qualified to perform;
    (7) Identification of the person(s) determining that the employee 
has successfully completed the training necessary to be considered 
qualified to perform the tasks identified in paragraph (e)(6) of this 
section; and
    (8) The date that the employee's status as qualified to perform the 
tasks identified in paragraph (e)(6) of this section expires due to the 
need for refresher training.
* * * * *

0
7. Add part 243 to read as follows:

PART 243--TRAINING, QUALIFICATION, AND OVERSIGHT FOR SAFETY-RELATED 
RAILROAD EMPLOYEES

Subpart A--General
Sec.
243.1 Purpose and scope.
243.3 Application and responsibility for compliance.
243.5 Definitions.
243.7 Penalties and consequences for noncompliance.
Subpart B--Program Components and Approval Process
243.101 Employer program required.
243.103 Training components identified in program.
243.105 Optional model program development.
243.107 Training program submission, introductory information 
required.
243.109 Training program submission, review, and approval process.
243.111 Approval of programs filed by training organizations or 
learning institutions.
243.113 Electronic and written program submission requirements.
Subpart C--Program Implementation and Oversight Requirements
243.201 Employee qualification requirements.
243.203 Records.
243.205 Periodic oversight.
243.207 Annual review.
243.209 Railroad maintained list of contractors utilized.
Appendix to Part 243--Schedule of Civil Penalties

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 20103, 20107, 20131-20155, 20162, 20301-
20306, 20701-20702, 21301-21304, 21311; 28 U.S.C. 2461, note; and 49 
CFR 1.89.

Subpart A--General


Sec.  243.1  Purpose and scope.

    (a) The purpose of this part is to ensure that any person employed 
by a railroad or a contractor of a railroad as a safety-related 
railroad employee is trained and qualified to comply with any relevant 
Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders, as well as any 
relevant railroad rules and procedures promulgated to implement those 
Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders.
    (b) This part contains the general minimum training and 
qualification requirements for each category and subcategory of safety-
related railroad employee, regardless of whether the employee is 
employed by a railroad or

[[Page 66502]]

a contractor of a railroad. Contractors shall coordinate with railroads 
and comply with the contents of this part, including those aspects of 
training that are specific to the contracting railroad's rules and 
procedures.
    (c) The requirements in this part do not exempt any other 
requirement in this chapter.
    (d) Unless otherwise noted, this part augments other training and 
qualification requirements contained in this chapter.
    (e) The requirements in this part do not address hazardous 
materials training of ``hazmat employees'' as defined in 49 CFR 171.8 
as such training is required pursuant to 49 CFR part 172, subpart H.


Sec.  243.3  Application and responsibility for compliance.

    (a) This part applies to all railroads, contractors of railroads, 
and training organizations or learning institutions that train safety-
related railroad employees except:
    (1) Railroads or contractors of railroads that operate only on 
track inside an installation that is not part of the general railroad 
system of transportation (i.e., plant railroads, as defined in Sec.  
243.5);
    (2) Tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations that are not 
part of the general railroad system of transportation as defined in 
Sec.  243.5; or
    (3) Rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not 
connected to the general railroad system of transportation.
    (b) Although the duties imposed by this part are generally stated 
in terms of the duty of a railroad, each person, including a contractor 
for a railroad, who performs any duty covered by this part, shall 
perform that duty in accordance with this part.


Sec.  243.5  Definitions.

    As used in this part--
    Administrator means the Administrator of the Federal Railroad 
Administration or the Administrator's delegate.
    Associate Administrator means the Associate Administrator for 
Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad 
Administration or that person's delegate as designated in writing.
    Calendar year means the period of time beginning on January 1 and 
ending on December 31 of each year.
    Contractor means a person under contract with a railroad, 
including, but not limited to, a prime contractor or a subcontractor.
    Designated instructor means a person designated as such by an 
employer, training organization, or learning institution, who has 
demonstrated, pursuant to the training program submitted by the 
employer, training organization, or learning institution, an adequate 
knowledge of the subject matter under instruction and, where 
applicable, has the necessary experience to effectively provide formal 
training of the subject matter.
    Employer means a railroad or a contractor of a railroad that 
employs at least one safety-related railroad employee.
    Formal training means training that has a structured and defined 
curriculum, and which provides an opportunity for training participants 
to have questions timely answered during the training or at a later 
date. In the context of this part, formal training may include, but is 
not limited to, classroom, computer-based, correspondence, on-the-job, 
simulator, or laboratory training.
    Knowledge-based training is a type of formal training that is not 
task-based and is intended to convey information required for a safety-
related railroad employee to comply with Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders, as well as any relevant railroad rules and 
procedures promulgated to implement those Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders.
    On-the-job training (OJT) means job training that occurs in the 
workplace, i.e., the employee learns the job while doing the job.
    Person means an entity of any type covered under 1 U.S.C. 1, 
including, but not limited to, the following: A railroad; a manager, 
supervisor, official, or other employee or agent of a railroad; any 
owner, manufacturer, lessor, or lessee of railroad equipment, track, or 
facilities; any independent contractor providing goods or services to a 
railroad; and any employee of such owner, manufacturer, lessor, lessee, 
or independent contractor.
    Plant railroad means a plant or installation that owns or leases a 
locomotive, uses that locomotive to switch cars throughout the plant or 
installation, and is moving goods solely for use in the facility's own 
industrial processes. The plant or installation could include track 
immediately adjacent to the plant or installation if the plant railroad 
leases the track from the general system railroad and the lease 
provides for (and actual practice entails) the exclusive use of that 
trackage by the plant railroad and the general system railroad for 
purposes of moving only cars shipped to or from the plant. A plant or 
installation that operates a locomotive to switch or move cars for 
other entities, even if solely within the confines of the plant or 
installation, rather than for its own purposes or industrial processes, 
will not be considered a plant railroad because the performance of such 
activity makes the operation part of the general railroad system of 
transportation.
    Qualified means that a person has successfully completed all 
instruction, training, and examination programs required by both the 
employer and this part, and that the person, therefore, may reasonably 
be expected to proficiently perform his or her duties in compliance 
with all Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders.
    Refresher training means periodic retraining required by an 
employer for each safety-related railroad employee to remain qualified.
    Safety-related duty means either a safety-related task or a 
knowledge-based prohibition that a person meeting the definition of a 
safety-related railroad employee is required to comply with, when such 
duty is covered by any Federal railroad safety law, regulation, or 
order.
    Safety-related railroad employee means an individual who is engaged 
or compensated by an employer to:
    (1) Perform work covered under the hours of service laws found at 
49 U.S.C. 21101, et seq.;
    (2) Perform work as an operating railroad employee who is not 
subject to the hours of service laws found at 49 U.S.C. 21101, et seq.;
    (3) In the application of parts 213 and 214 of this chapter, 
inspect, install, repair, or maintain track, roadbed, and signal and 
communication systems, including a roadway worker or railroad bridge 
worker as defined in Sec.  214.7 of this chapter;
    (4) Inspect, repair, or maintain locomotives, passenger cars or 
freight cars;
    (5) Inspect, repair, or maintain other railroad on-track equipment 
when such equipment is in a service that constitutes a train movement 
under part 232 of this chapter;
    (6) Determine that an on-track roadway maintenance machine or hi-
rail vehicle may be used in accordance with part 214, subpart D of this 
chapter, without repair of a non-complying condition;
    (7) Directly instruct, mentor, inspect, or test, as a primary duty, 
any person while that other person is engaged in a safety-related task; 
or
    (8) Directly supervise the performance of safety-related duties in 
connection with periodic oversight in accordance with Sec.  243.205.

[[Page 66503]]

    Safety-related task means a task that a person meeting the 
definition of a safety-related railroad employee performs, when such 
task is covered by any Federal railroad safety law, regulation, or 
order.
    Task-based training means a type of formal training with a primary 
focus on teaching the skills necessary to perform specific tasks that 
require some degree of neuromuscular coordination.
    Tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations that are not 
part of the general railroad system of transportation means a tourist, 
scenic, historic, or excursion operation conducted only on track used 
exclusively for that purpose (i.e., there is no freight, intercity 
passenger, or commuter passenger railroad operation on the track).


Sec.  243.7  Penalties and consequences for noncompliance.

    (a) A person who violates any requirement of this part, or causes 
the violation of any such requirement, is subject to a civil penalty of 
at least $650 and not more than $25,000 per violation, except that: 
Penalties may be assessed against individuals only for willful 
violations, and, where a grossly negligent violation or a pattern of 
repeated violations has created an imminent hazard of death or injury 
to persons, or has caused death or injury, a penalty not to exceed 
$100,000 per violation may be assessed. Each day a violation continues 
shall constitute a separate offense. See Appendix A to this part for a 
statement of agency civil penalty policy.
    (b) A person who violates any requirement of this part or causes 
the violation of any such requirement may be subject to 
disqualification from all safety-sensitive service in accordance with 
part 209 of this chapter.
    (c) A person who knowingly and willfully falsifies a record or 
report required by this part may be subject to criminal penalties under 
49 U.S.C. 21311.

Subpart B--Program Components and Approval Process


Sec.  243.101  Employer program required.

    (a)(1) Effective January 1, 2018, each employer conducting 
operations subject to this part with 400,000 total employee work hours 
annually or more shall submit, adopt, and comply with a training 
program for its safety-related railroad employees.
    (2) Effective January 1, 2019 or four years from the date of 
issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance Guide, whichever is later, 
each employer conducting operations subject to this part with less than 
400,000 total employee work hours annually shall submit, adopt, and 
comply with a training program for its safety-related railroad 
employees.
    (b) Except for an employer subject to the requirement in paragraph 
(a)(2) of this section, an employer commencing operations subject to 
this part after January 1, 2018 shall submit a training program for its 
safety-related railroad employees prior to commencing operations. Upon 
commencing operations, the employer shall adopt and comply with the 
training program.
    (c) In the program required by this part, the employer shall:
    (1) Classify its safety-related railroad employees in occupational 
categories or subcategories by craft, class, task, or other suitable 
terminology;
    (2) Define the occupational categories or subcategories of safety-
related railroad employees. The definition of each category or 
subcategory shall include a list of the Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders that the employee is required to comply with, 
based on the employee's assignments and duties, broken down at a 
minimum to the applicable part of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
section of the United States Code, or citation to an order. The listing 
of the Federal requirements shall contain the descriptive title of each 
law, regulation, or order;
    (3) Create tables or utilize other suitable formats which summarize 
the information required in paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section, 
segregated by major railroad departments (e.g., Operations, Maintenance 
of Way, Maintenance of Equipment, Signal and Communications). After 
listing the major departments, the tables or other formats should list 
the categories and subcategories of safety-related railroad employees 
within those departments;
    (4) Develop procedures to design and develop key learning points 
for any task-based or knowledge-based training; and
    (5) Determine how training shall be structured, developed, and 
delivered, including an appropriate combination of classroom, 
simulator, computer-based, correspondence, OJT, or other formal 
training. The curriculum shall be designed to impart knowledge of, and 
ability to comply with applicable Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders, as well as any relevant railroad rules and 
procedures promulgated to implement those applicable Federal railroad 
safety laws, regulations, and orders.
    (d) On-the-job (OJT) training requirements:
    (1) If a training program has OJT, the OJT portion of the training 
program shall consist of the following three key components:
    (i) A brief statement describing the tasks and related steps the 
employee learning the job shall be able to perform;
    (ii) A statement of the conditions (prerequisites, tools, 
equipment, documentation, briefings, demonstrations, and practice) 
necessary for learning transfer; and
    (iii) A statement of the standards by which proficiency is measured 
through a combination of task/step accuracy, completeness, and 
repetition.
    (2) Prior to beginning the initial safety-related tasks associated 
with OJT exercises, employers shall make any relevant information or 
materials, such as operating rules, safety rules, or other rules 
available to employees involved for referencing.
    (3) The tasks and related steps associated with OJT exercises for a 
particular category or subcategory of employee shall be maintained 
together in one manual, checklist, or similar document. This reference 
shall be made available to all employees involved in those OJT 
exercises.
    (e) Contractor's responsibility to validate approved program to a 
railroad: A contractor that chooses to train its own safety-related 
railroad employees shall provide each railroad that utilizes it with a 
document indicating that the contractor's program of training was 
approved by FRA. A contractor is being utilized by a railroad when any 
of the contractor's employees conduct safety-related duties on behalf 
of the railroad and the railroad does not otherwise qualify those 
employees of the contractor that are allowed to perform those duties.
    (f) Railroad's responsibility to retain contractor's validation of 
program: A railroad that chooses to utilize contractor employees to 
perform safety-related duties and relies on contractor-provided 
training as the basis for those employees' qualification to perform 
those duties shall retain a document from the contractor indicating 
that the contractor's program was approved by FRA. A copy of the 
document required in paragraph (e) of this section satisfies this 
requirement.


Sec.  243.103  Training components identified in program.

    (a) Each employer's program shall include the following components:
    (1) A unique name and identifier for each formal course of study;

[[Page 66504]]

    (2) A course outline for each course that includes the following:
    (i) Any prerequisites to course attendance;
    (ii) A brief description of the course, including the terminal 
learning objectives;
    (iii) A brief description of the target audience, e.g., a list of 
the occupational categories and subcategories of employees the course 
will be delivered to;
    (iv) The method(s) of course delivery, which may include, but are 
not limited to, classroom, computer-based, on-the-job, simulator, 
laboratory, correspondence courses, or any combination thereof;
    (v) The anticipated course duration;
    (vi) A syllabus of the course to include any applicable U.S.C. 
chapters, 49 CFR parts, or FRA orders covered in the training; and
    (vii) The kind of assessment (written test, performance test, 
verbal test, OJT standard, etc.) performed to demonstrate employee 
competency.
    (3) A document for each OJT program component that includes the 
following:
    (i) The roles and responsibilities of each category of person 
involved in the administration and implementation, guidelines for 
program coordination, and the progression and application of the OJT;
    (ii) A listing of the occupational categories and subcategories of 
employees for which the OJT program applies; and
    (iii) Details of the safety-related tasks and subtasks, conditions, 
and standards covered by the program components.
    (4) The job title and telephone number of the employer's primary 
training point(s) of contact, listed separately by major department or 
employee occupational category, if applicable.
    (5) If any training organization or learning institution developed 
and will deliver all or any part of the training, the employer must 
include the following:
    (i) A narrative, text table, or other suitable format which 
describes those portions of the training that fit into this category;
    (ii) The business name of the organization that developed and will 
deliver the training; and
    (iii) The job title and telephone number of the training 
organization or learning institution's primary training point of 
contact.
    (b) An employer that is required to submit similar training 
programs or plans pursuant to other regulatory requirements contained 
elsewhere in this chapter may elect to cross-reference these other 
programs or plans in the program required by this part rather than 
resubmitting that similar program or plan. When any such similar 
program or plan did not include the OJT components specified in 
paragraph (a)(3) of this section, the employer shall supplement its 
program in accordance with this part by providing that additional 
information.
    (c) If an employer arranges job-related practice and practice 
related feedback sessions to supplement classroom, laboratory, 
simulator training, or OJT, the program shall include a description of 
the supplemental training.
    (d) FRA may require modifications to any programs, including those 
programs referenced in paragraph (b) of this section, if it determines 
essential program components, such as OJT, or arranged practice and 
feedback, are missing or inadequate.


Sec.  243.105  Optional model program development.

    (a) Any organization, business, or association may develop and 
submit one or more model training programs to FRA for review and 
approval so that the model program(s) may be used by multiple 
employers.
    (1) Any such model program should be submitted with a unique 
identifier associated with the program, or FRA will assign a unique 
identifier.
    (2) The program associated with the organization's unique 
identifier shall include all information required by Sec.  243.103.
    (3) Each model training program submitted to FRA prior to May 1, 
2017 is considered approved and may be implemented 180 days after the 
date of submission unless the Associate Administrator advises the 
organization, business, or association that developed and submitted the 
program that all or part of the program does not conform.
    (b) An employer that chooses to use a model program approved by FRA 
is not required to submit the entire program to FRA. Instead, the 
employer must submit only the unique identifier, and all other 
information that is specific to that employer or deviates from the 
model program.


Sec.  243.107  Training program submission, introductory information 
required.

    (a) An employer who provides or is responsible for the training of 
safety-related railroad employees shall submit its training program to 
FRA for review and approval. Each employer shall state in its 
submission whether, at the time of filing, it:
    (1) Primarily conducts the training program of its own safety-
related railroad employees, utilizing its own resources;
    (2) Conducts any training for other than its own safety-related 
railroad employees;
    (3) Implements any training programs conducted by some other entity 
on its behalf but adopted by that employer;
    (4) Qualifies safety-related railroad employees previously 
qualified by other employers;
    (5) Qualifies safety-related railroad employees previously trained 
by training organizations or learning institutions; or
    (6) Any combination of paragraph (a)(1) through (5) of this 
section.
    (b) An employer who utilizes any of the options specified in 
paragraphs (a)(2) through (5) of this section shall provide the 
following information in its submission:
    (1) The categories of safety-related railroad employees who, at the 
time of filing, will receive training utilizing one or more of these 
options; and
    (2) Whether the training delivered, utilizing one or more of these 
options, composes all or part of the overall training program regimen 
for that category of employee at the time of filing.
    (c) An employer that elects to use training organizations or 
learning institutions to train some or all of its safety-related 
railroad employees, or to hire new safety-related railroad employees 
that have previously received training from any training organizations 
or learning institutions, shall include the full name of the training 
organization or learning institution in its submission.


Sec.  243.109  Training program submission, review, and approval 
process.

    (a) Initial programs. (1) Apprenticeship or similar intern 
programs, that began prior to submission of the employer's initial 
program filed in accordance with this part, shall be described in the 
employer's initial program. Any such apprenticeship or similar intern 
programs may continue, but if the Associate Administrator advises the 
employer of specific deficiencies, the employer shall resubmit that 
portion of its program, as revised to address specific deficiencies, 
within 90 days after the date of any notice of deficiencies from the 
Associate Administrator. A failure to resubmit the program with the 
necessary revisions shall be considered a failure to implement a 
program under this part. The Associate Administrator may extend this 
90-day period upon written request.

[[Page 66505]]

    (2) An employer's initial program, as required by Sec.  243.101(a) 
or (b), must be submitted to the Associate Administrator and is 
considered approved, and may be implemented immediately upon 
submission. Following submission, the Associate Administrator will 
review the program and inform the employer as to whether the initial 
program conforms to this part. If the Associate Administrator 
determines that all or part of the program does not conform, the 
Associate Administrator will inform the employer of the specific 
deficiencies. The deficient portions of the non-conforming program may 
remain in effect until approval of the revised program, unless FRA 
provides notification otherwise. An employer shall resubmit the portion 
of its program, as revised to address specific deficiencies, within 90 
days after the date of any notice of deficiencies from the Associate 
Administrator. A failure to resubmit the program with the necessary 
revisions shall be considered a failure to implement a program under 
this part. The Associate Administrator may extend this 90-day period 
upon written request.
    (b) Previously approved programs require an informational filing 
when modified. The employer must review its previously approved 
training program and modify it accordingly when new safety-related 
Federal railroad laws, regulations, or orders are issued, or new 
safety-related technologies, procedures, or equipment are introduced 
into the workplace and result in new knowledge requirements, safety-
related tasks, or modification of existing safety-related duties. An 
employer that modifies its training program for these described reasons 
shall submit an informational filing to the Associate Administrator not 
later than 30 days after the end of the calendar year in which the 
modification occurred, unless FRA advises otherwise to individual 
employers, one or more group of employers, or the general public. 
Programs modified in accordance with this paragraph, after the initial 
FRA approval, are considered approved upon being modified and may be 
implemented immediately. Any program deficiencies noted by the 
Associate Administrator shall be addressed in the same manner as 
paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The filing shall contain a summary 
description of sufficient detail that FRA can associate the changes 
with the employer's previously approved program, and shall include:
    (1) Descriptions of all new or refresher training courses developed 
since the previous FRA approval, using the same criteria required for 
an initial filing;
    (2) Explanations whenever OJT or arranged practice is added to, or 
discontinued from, a program;
    (3) Explanations as to how the methods of delivering training, or 
qualifying employees has changed; and
    (4) A statement from an organization, business, or association that 
has submitted a model program pursuant to this part, that the 
organization, business, or association has informed each employer who 
requested the right to use the affected training program of the changes 
and the need for the employer to comply with those changes that apply 
to the employer's operation.
    (c) New portions or revisions to an approved program. Substantial 
additions or revisions to a previously approved program, that are not 
described as informational filings in accordance with paragraph (b) of 
this section, shall be considered approved and may be implemented 
immediately upon submission. Following submission, the Associate 
Administrator will review the new portions or revisions to the 
previously approved program and inform the employer as to whether the 
modifications conform to this part. Any program deficiencies noted by 
the Associate Administrator shall be addressed in the same manner as 
paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The Associate Administrator will 
inform the employer as to whether a new portion or revision to an 
approved program conforms to this part. If the Associate Administrator 
has determined that the changes do not conform to this part, the 
employer shall resubmit the portion of its program, as revised to 
address specific deficiencies, within 90 days after the date of any 
notice of deficiencies from the Associate Administrator. Failure to 
resubmit the program with the necessary revisions shall be considered a 
failure to implement a program under this part. The Associate 
Administrator may extend this 90-day period upon written request.
    (d) Additional submission, resubmission, or informational filing 
requirement for railroads. (1) Each railroad shall:
    (i) Simultaneous with its filing with the FRA, serve a copy of any 
submission, resubmission, or informational filing required pursuant to 
this section, to the president of each labor organization that 
represents the railroad's employees subject to this part; and
    (ii) Include in its submission, resubmission, or informational 
filing required pursuant to this section a statement affirming that the 
railroad has served a copy to the president of each labor organization 
that represents the railroad's employees subject to this part, together 
with a list of the names and addresses of persons served.
    (2) Not later than 90 days from the date a railroad files its 
submission, resubmission, or informational filing required pursuant to 
this section, a representative designated by the president of each 
labor organization that represents railroad employees subject to this 
part, may file a comment on the submission, resubmission, or 
informational filing:
    (i) Each comment shall be submitted to the Associate Administrator 
for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer, Federal Railroad 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; and
    (ii) The commenter shall certify that a copy of the comment was 
served on the railroad.


Sec.  243.111  Approval of programs filed by training organizations or 
learning institutions.

    (a) A training organization or learning institution that provides 
training services for safety-related railroad employees, including 
providing such training services to independent students who enroll 
with such training organization or learning institution and who will 
rely on the training services provided to qualify to become safety-
related railroad employees, must submit its program to FRA for review 
and approval.
    (b) A training organization or learning institution that has 
provided training services to employers covered by this part prior to 
January 1, 2017 may continue to offer such training services without 
FRA approval until January 1, 2018. The Associate Administrator may 
extend this period at any time based on a written request. Such written 
requests for an extension of time to submit a program should contain 
any factors the training organization or learning institution wants the 
Associate Administrator to consider prior to approving or disapproving 
the extension.
    (c) A program submitted by a training organization or learning 
institution must include all information required for an employer's 
program in accordance with this part, unless the requirement could only 
apply to an employer's program. The submitted program for a training 
organization or learning institution must also include the following 
information:
    (1) The full corporate or business name of the training 
organization or learning institution;

[[Page 66506]]

    (2) The training organization or learning institution's primary 
business and email address;
    (3) The training organization or learning institution's primary 
telephone number and point of contact;
    (4) A listing of the training organization or learning 
institution's designated instructors;
    (5) A resume for each designated instructor, showing how the 
instructor achieved the subject-matter and training expertise necessary 
to develop and deliver training to safety-related railroad employees, 
unless the designated instructors are currently employed by a railroad;
    (6) A list of references of employer customers the learning 
organization or training institution has provided services to in the 
past; and
    (7) A brief summary statement indicating how the training 
organization or learning institution determined the knowledge, skills, 
and abilities necessary to develop the training courses it provides to 
employers and independent students who enroll with such training 
organization or learning institution in order to become safety-related 
railroad employees. This brief summary should be of sufficient detail 
so that FRA can ascertain the methodologies the training organization 
or learning institution used during training development.
    (d) Except as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, prior 
approval by the Associate Administrator is required before FRA will 
accept such training as sufficient to meet the requirements of this 
part. The Associate Administrator will advise the training organization 
or learning institution in writing whether FRA has approved the 
program. If all or part of the program is not approved by FRA, the 
Associate Administrator will inform the training organization or 
learning institution of specific deficiencies. At the time that the 
Associate Administrator informs of any deficiencies, the Associate 
Administrator will clarify whether any particular training courses 
shall be considered approved.
    (e) Previously approved programs require an informational filing 
when modified. The training organization or learning institution shall 
review its previously approved training program and modify it 
accordingly when new safety-related Federal railroad laws, regulations, 
or orders are issued, or new safety-related technologies, procedures, 
or equipment are introduced into the workplace and result in new 
knowledge requirements, safety-related tasks, or in modifications of 
existing safety-related duties. A training organization or learning 
institution that modifies its training program for these described 
reasons shall submit an informational filing to the Associate 
Administrator not later than 30 days after the end of the calendar year 
in which the modification occurred, unless FRA advises otherwise. 
Programs modified in accordance with this paragraph are considered 
approved upon modification and may be implemented immediately. Any 
program deficiencies noted by the Associate Administrator shall be 
addressed as specified in this section. The filing shall contain a 
summary description of sufficient detail so that FRA can associate the 
changes with the training organization's or learning institution's 
previously approved program, and shall include:
    (1) Descriptions of all new or refresher training courses developed 
after the previous FRA approval, using the same criteria required for 
an initial filing;
    (2) Explanations whenever OJT or arranged practice is added to, or 
discontinued from, a program; and
    (3) Explanations as to how the methods of delivering training, or 
qualifying employees has changed.
    (f) New portions or revisions to an approved program: Substantial 
additions or revisions to a previously approved program, that are not 
described as informational filings in accordance with paragraph (e) of 
this section, shall require prior approval by the Associate 
Administrator before FRA will accept such training as sufficient to 
meet the requirements of this part. The Associate Administrator will 
advise the training organization or learning institution in writing 
whether FRA has approved the new or revised program. If all or part of 
the program is not approved by FRA, the Associate Administrator will 
inform the training organization or learning institution of specific 
deficiencies. At the time that the Associate Administrator informs the 
training organization or learning institution of any deficiencies, the 
Associate Administrator will clarify whether any particular new or 
revised training courses shall be considered approved.
    (g) Training organizations and learning institutions subject to 
this part are required to maintain records for each safety-related 
railroad employee that attends the training, in accordance with the 
recordkeeping requirements of this part.
    (h) Training organizations and learning institutions subject to 
this part shall provide a student's training transcript or training 
record to any employer upon request by the student.


Sec.  243.113  Electronic and written program submission requirements.

    (a) Except for an employer with less than 400,000 total employee 
work hours annually, each employer, training organization, or learning 
institution to which this part applies is required to file by 
electronic means any program submissions required under this part in 
accordance with the requirements of this section. Each organization, 
business, or association that develops an optional model program in 
accordance with Sec.  243.105 of this part is required to 
electronically file the program in accordance with the requirements of 
this section.
    (b) Prior to any person's first program submission electronically, 
the person shall provide the Associate Administrator with the following 
information in writing:
    (1) The name of the employer, organization, learning institution, 
business, or association;
    (2) The names of two individuals, including job titles, who will be 
the person's points of contact and will be the only individuals allowed 
access to FRA's secure document submission site;
    (3) The mailing addresses for the person's points of contact;
    (4) The person's system or main headquarters address located in the 
United States;
    (5) The email addresses for the person's points of contact; and
    (6) The daytime telephone numbers for the person's points of 
contact.
    (c) A person that electronically submits an initial program, 
informational filing, or new portions or revisions to an approved 
program required by this part shall be considered to have provided its 
consent to receive approval or disapproval notices from FRA by email.
    (d) A request for FRA review of written materials shall be 
addressed to the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief 
Safety Officer, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590.
    (e) FRA may electronically store any materials required by this 
part regardless of whether the person that submits the materials does 
so by delivering the written materials to the Associate Administrator 
and opts not to submit the materials electronically.
    (f) A person that opts not to submit the materials required by this 
part electronically, but provides one or more email addresses in its 
submission, shall be considered to have provided consent to receive 
approval or disapproval notices from FRA by email or mail.

[[Page 66507]]

Subpart C--Program Implementation and Oversight Requirements


Sec.  243.201  Employee qualification requirements.

    (a) Designating existing employees:
    (1) By no later than September 1, 2018, each employer with 400,000 
total employee work hours annually or more in operation as of January 
1, 2018, shall declare the designation of each of its existing safety-
related railroad employees by occupational category or subcategory, and 
only permit designated employees to perform safety-related service in 
that occupational category or subcategory. The Associate Administrator 
may extend this period based on a written request.
    (2) By no later than September 1, 2019 or four years and eight 
months from the date of issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance 
Guide, whichever is later, each employer with less than 400,000 total 
employee work hours annually in operation as of January 1, 2019, shall 
declare the designation of each of its existing safety-related railroad 
employees by occupational category or subcategory, and only permit 
designated employees to perform safety-related service in that 
occupational category or subcategory. The Associate Administrator may 
extend this period based on a written request.
    (b) Except for an employer subject to the requirement in paragraph 
(a)(2) of this section, an employer commencing operations after January 
1, 2018 shall declare the designation of each of its existing safety-
related railroad employees by occupational category or subcategory 
prior to beginning operations, and only permit designated employees to 
perform safety-related service in that category or subcategory. Any 
person designated shall have met the requirements for newly hired 
employees or those assigned new safety-related duties in accordance 
with paragraph (c) of this section.
    (c) Newly hired employees or those assigned new safety-related 
duty:. The following requirements apply to qualifying a safety-related 
railroad employee who, subsequent to the employer's designation in 
accordance with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, is newly hired 
or is to engage in a safety-related task not associated with the 
employee's previous training.
    (1) Prior to an employee becoming a qualified member of an 
occupational category or subcategory, the employer shall require a 
safety-related railroad employee who is newly hired or is to engage in 
safety-related duties not associated with the employee's previous 
training to successfully complete the formal training curriculum for 
that category or subcategory of safety-related railroad employee. 
Successful completion of the formal training curriculum includes 
passing any required examinations covering the skills and knowledge the 
employee will need to possess in order to perform the safety-related 
duties necessary to be a member of the occupational category or 
subcategory.
    (2) If the training curriculum includes OJT, the employee shall 
demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a designated instructor, OJT 
proficiency by successfully completing the safety-related tasks 
necessary to become a qualified member of the occupational category or 
subcategory. However, as part of the OJT process and prior to 
completing such training and passing the field evaluation, a person may 
perform such tasks under the direct onsite observation of any qualified 
person, provided the qualified person has been advised of the 
circumstances and is capable of intervening if an unsafe act or non-
compliance with Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, or orders is 
observed. An employee designated to provide formal training to other 
employees, and who is not a designated instructor, shall be qualified 
on the safety-related topics or tasks in accordance with the employer's 
training program and the requirements of this part.
    (d) Employees previously qualified or trained, but not by the 
current employer: If an employee has received relevant qualification or 
training for a particular occupational category or subcategory through 
participation in a FRA-approved training program submitted by an entity 
other than the employee's current employer, that training shall satisfy 
the requirements of this part:
    (1) Provided that:
    (i) A current record of training is obtained from that other 
entity; or
    (ii) When a current record of training is unavailable from that 
other entity, an employer performs testing to ensure the employee has 
the knowledge necessary to be a member of that category or subcategory 
of safety-related railroad employee; and
    (2) When the employee, in the previous 180 days, has either not 
performed the safety-related duties or not received initial or periodic 
training for an occupational category or subcategory, the employer 
shall perform testing to ensure the employee has retained the knowledge 
necessary to remain a member of that occupational category or 
subcategory. In the situation where an employee's records are 
unavailable and the employee is subject to testing under paragraph 
(d)(1)(ii) of this section, no additional testing is required.
    (e) Refresher training requirements and options:
    (1) Beginning January 1, 2020, each employer with 400,000 total 
employee work hours annually or more shall deliver refresher training 
at an interval not to exceed 3 calendar years from the date of an 
employee's last training event, except where refresher training is 
specifically required more frequently in accordance with this chapter. 
If the last training event occurs prior to FRA's approval of the 
employer's training program, the employer shall provide refresher 
training either within 3 calendar years from that prior training event 
or no later than December 31, 2022. Each employer shall ensure that, as 
part of each employee's refresher training, the employee is trained and 
qualified on the application of any Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders the person is required to comply with, as well 
as any relevant railroad rules and procedures promulgated to implement 
those Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders.
    (2) Beginning January 1, 2021 or six years from the date of 
issuance of FRA's Interim Final Compliance Guide, whichever is later, 
each employer with less than 400,000 total employee work hours annually 
shall deliver refresher training at an interval not to exceed 3 
calendar years from the date of an employee's last training event, 
except where refresher training is specifically required more 
frequently in accordance with this chapter. If the last training event 
occurs prior to FRA's approval of the employer's training program, the 
employer shall provide refresher training either within 3 calendar 
years from that prior training event or no later than December 31, 
2023. Each employer shall ensure that, as part of each employee's 
refresher training, the employee is trained and qualified on the 
application of any Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and 
orders the person is required to comply with, as well as any relevant 
railroad rules and procedures promulgated to implement those Federal 
railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders.


Sec.  243.203  Records.

    (a) General requirements for qualification status records; 
accessibility. Each employer shall maintain records to demonstrate the 
qualification status of each safety-related railroad employee that it 
employs.

[[Page 66508]]

    (1) The records for former safety-related railroad employees shall 
be accessible for 6 years at the employer's system headquarters after 
the employment relationship ends.
    (2) Current employee records shall be accessible at the employer's 
system headquarters.
    (b) Employee information. The records shall include the following 
information concerning each such employee:
    (1) The name of the employee;
    (2) Occupational category or subcategory designations for which the 
employee is deemed qualified;
    (3) The dates that each formal training course was completed;
    (4) The title of each formal training course successfully 
completed;
    (5) If the safety-related railroad employee attended safety-related 
training offered by a business, a training organization, or a learning 
institution with an FRA-approved program, a copy of the transcript or 
appropriate record from that business, training organization, or 
learning institution;
    (6) The employee's OJT performance, which shall include the unique 
name or identifier of the OJT program component in accordance with 
Sec.  243.103, the date the OJT program component was successfully 
completed, and the identification of the person(s) determining that the 
employee successfully completed all OJT training necessary to be 
considered qualified to perform the safety-related tasks identified 
with the occupational categories or subcategories for which the 
employee is designated in accordance with the program required by this 
part;
    (7) The date that the employee's status is determined to be 
qualified and the employee is designated to perform the safety-related 
duties identified with any particular occupational categories or 
subcategories, in accordance with the program required by this part;
    (8) If an employee's qualification status was transferred from 
another entity with an approved program, a copy of the training record 
from that other entity; and
    (9) Any additional information required by this part.
    (c) Record accessibility for other than individual employee 
records. Except for records demonstrating the qualification status of 
each safety-related railroad employee as described in paragraph (b) of 
this section or otherwise specified in this part, each test, 
inspection, annual review, or other event record required by this part 
shall be accessible for 3 calendar years after the end of the calendar 
year to which the event relates. Each employer shall make these records 
accessible at one headquarters location within the United States, 
including, but not limited to, a railroad's system headquarters, a 
holding company's headquarters, a joint venture's headquarters, a 
contractor's principal place of business or other headquarters located 
where the contractor is incorporated. This requirement does not 
prohibit an employer with divisions from also maintaining any of these 
records at any division headquarters.
    (d) Availability of records. Each employer, training organization, 
or learning institution required to maintain records under this part 
shall:
    (1) Make all records available for inspection and copying/
photocopying to representatives of FRA, upon request during normal 
business hours; and
    (2) Make an employee's records available for inspection and 
copying/photocopying to that employee, former employee, or such 
person's representative upon written authorization by such employee 
during normal business hours.
    (e) Electronic recordkeeping. Nothing in this section precludes an 
employer, a training organization, or a learning institution from 
maintaining the information required to be retained under this part in 
an electronic format provided that:
    (1) The employer, training organization, or learning institution 
maintains an information technology security program adequate to ensure 
the integrity of the electronic data storage system, including the 
prevention of unauthorized access to the program logic or individual 
records;
    (2) The program and data storage system must be protected by a 
security system that utilizes an employee identification number and 
password, or a comparable method, to establish appropriate levels of 
program access meeting all of the following standards:
    (i) No two individuals have the same electronic identity; and
    (ii) A record cannot be deleted or altered by any individual after 
the record is certified by the employee who created the record;
    (3) Any amendment to a record is either:
    (i) Electronically stored apart from the record that it amends; or
    (ii) Electronically attached to the record as information without 
changing the original record;
    (4) Each amendment to a record uniquely identifies the person 
making the amendment;
    (5) The system employed by the employer, training organization, or 
learning institution for data storage permits reasonable access and 
retrieval of the information in usable format when requested to furnish 
data by FRA representatives; and
    (6) Information retrieved from the system can be easily produced in 
a printed format which can be readily provided to FRA representatives 
in a timely manner and authenticated by a designated representative of 
the railroad as a true and accurate copy of the railroad's records if 
requested to do so by FRA representatives.
    (f) Transfer of records. If an employer ceases to do business and 
its assets will be transferred to a successor employer, it shall 
transfer to the successor employer all records required to be 
maintained under this part, and the successor employer shall retain 
them for the remainder of the period prescribed in this part.


Sec.  243.205  Periodic oversight.

    (a) General. As part of the program required in accordance with 
this part, an employer shall adopt and comply with a program to conduct 
periodic oversight tests and inspections to determine if safety-related 
railroad employees comply with Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and work 
group safety. The program of periodic oversight shall commence on the 
day the employer files its program with FRA pursuant to Sec.  
243.101(a) or on the day the employer commences operations pursuant to 
Sec.  243.101(b). The data gathered through the testing and inspection 
components of the program shall be used to determine whether systemic 
performance gaps exist, and to determine if modifications to the 
training component of the program are appropriate to close those gaps.
    (b) Locomotive engineer and conductor oversight exception. Periodic 
oversight specified in this section is not required for employees 
covered by parts 240 and 242 of this chapter, but a railroad shall use 
results of the assessments required by those parts to determine if 
changes in its training programs are necessary to close any proficiency 
gaps found during those assessments.
    (c) Railroad oversight. Each railroad shall identify supervisory 
employees, by category or subcategory, responsible for conducting 
periodic oversight tests and inspections for the safety-related 
railroad employees that it authorizes to perform safety-related duties 
on its property, except a railroad is not required to:
    (1) Provide oversight for a contractor's safety-related railroad 
employees if that contractor is required to conduct its own periodic 
oversight because it meets

[[Page 66509]]

the criteria specified in paragraph (g) of this section;
    (2) Provide oversight for categories or subcategories of a 
contractor's safety-related railroad employees if the railroad does not 
employ supervisory employees who are qualified as safety-related 
railroad employees in those categories or subcategories; or
    (3) Provide oversight for any supervisory employee identified by 
the railroad as responsible for conducting oversight in accordance with 
this section.
    (d) Operational test exception for a railroad. A railroad is not 
required to perform operational tests of safety-related railroad 
employees employed by a contractor.
    (e) Railroad oversight for contractors. A railroad may choose to 
require supervisory employees to perform oversight of safety-related 
railroad employees employed by a contractor either:
    (1) When oversight test and inspection sessions are scheduled 
specifically to determine if safety-related employees are in compliance 
with Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders particular 
to FRA-regulated personal and work group safety; or
    (2) When a qualified railroad supervisory employee's duties place 
this person in the vicinity of one or more safety-related railroad 
employees employed by a contractor and performing the oversight would 
result in minimal disruption of this person's other assigned duties.
    (f) Railroad's duty to notify contractor of non-compliance. A 
railroad that finds evidence of contractor employee non-compliance with 
Federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders particular to 
FRA-regulated personal and work group safety during the periodic 
oversight shall provide that employee and that employee's employer with 
details of the non-compliance.
    (g) Contractor oversight. Each contractor shall conduct periodic 
oversight tests and inspections of its safety-related railroad 
employees provided:
    (1) A contractor employs more than 15 safety-related railroad 
employees;
    (2) A contractor relies on training it directly provides to its own 
employees as the basis for qualifying those employees to perform 
safety-related duties on a railroad; and
    (3) A contractor employs supervisory safety-related railroad 
employees capable of performing oversight.
    (h) Oversight divided by agreement. Notwithstanding the 
requirements of paragraphs (c) and (g) of this section, a railroad and 
a contractor may agree that the contractor will provide the oversight 
by specifying in the program that the railroad has trained the 
contractor employees responsible for training and oversight.
    (i) Detailed records required. Each employer that conducts periodic 
oversight in accordance with this section must keep a record of the 
date, time, place, and result of each test or inspection. The records 
shall specify each person administering tests and inspections, and each 
person tested. The record shall also provide a method to record whether 
the employee complied with the monitored duties, and any interventions 
used to remediate non-compliance. Modifications of the program required 
by Sec.  217.9 of this chapter may be used in lieu of this oversight 
program, provided a railroad specifies it has done so in its program 
submitted in accordance with this part.
    (j) Additional records requirement. Records required under this 
section are subject to the requirements of Sec.  243.203.


Sec.  243.207  Annual review.

    (a) The purpose of this review is to determine if knowledge or 
performance gaps exist in the application of Federal railroad safety 
laws, regulations, and orders. This section shall apply to each 
railroad once a program has been approved by FRA in accordance with 
this part. This section does not apply to a railroad with less than 
400,000 total employee work hours annually. This section does not apply 
to employers other than railroads except as specified in paragraph (f) 
of this section.
    (b) Except as provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, each 
railroad that is required to conduct periodic oversight in accordance 
with Sec.  243.205 is also required to conduct an annual review, as 
provided in this section, and shall retain, at its system headquarters, 
one copy of the written annual review.
    (c) Each railroad shall designate a person(s) who shall conduct a 
written annual review. The annual review shall be designed to identify 
knowledge or performance gaps in occupational categories and determine 
whether adjustments to the training component of the program are the 
appropriate intervention to close those gaps or otherwise improve the 
effectiveness of the program. Such review shall include analysis of the 
following data:
    (1) Periodic oversight data required by Sec.  243.205;
    (2) Reportable accident/incident data as defined in part 225 of 
this chapter;
    (3) FRA inspection report data;
    (4) Employee training feedback received through a course evaluation 
process, if such feedback is available; and
    (5) Feedback received from labor representatives, if such feedback 
is available.
    (d) Based upon the results of the annual review, the designated 
person(s) shall coordinate any necessary adjustments to the initial and 
refresher training programs. At the railroad's option, the annual 
review required under this section may be conducted in conjunction with 
any periodic review required under part 217 of this chapter.
    (e) If a railroad utilizes a contractor that directly trains its 
own safety-related railroad employees, the railroad shall notify the 
contractor of the relevant training program adjustments made to the 
railroad's program in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.
    (f) A contractor shall use any information provided by a railroad 
to adjust its training specific to the Federal railroad safety laws, 
regulations, and orders particular to FRA-regulated personal and work 
group safety.
    (g) Prior to September 1 of each calendar year, each railroad to 
which this section applies shall complete its annual review for the 
previous calendar year.


Sec.  243.209  Railroad maintained list of contractors utilized.

    (a) Each railroad utilizing contractors to supply the railroad with 
safety-related railroad employees shall maintain a list, at its system 
headquarters, with information regarding each contractor utilized 
unless:
    (1) The railroad qualifies each of the contractor's safety-related 
railroad employees utilized; and
    (2) The railroad maintains the training records for each of the 
contractor's safety-related railroad employees utilized.
    (b) The listing required by paragraph (a) of this section shall 
include:
    (1) The full corporate or business name of the contractor;
    (2) The contractor's primary business and email address; and
    (3) The contractor's primary telephone number.
    (c) The information required by this section shall be continuously 
updated as additional contractors are utilized, and no contractor 
information shall be deleted from the list unless the contractor has 
not been utilized for at least 3 years from the end of the calendar 
year the contractor was last utilized.

Appendix to Part 243--Schedule of Civil Penalties

[[Page 66510]]



          Appendix to Part 243--Schedule of Civil Penalties \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Section                  Violation         Willful violation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Subpart B--Program Components and Approval Process
------------------------------------------------------------------------
243.101--Employer program
 required:
    (a-c) Complete failure    $7,500-12,500         $11,000-$16,000
     to submit, adopt, or
     comply with program.
    (a-c) Partial failure to  4,500-9,500           6,500-13,000
     submit, adopt, or
     comply with program; or
     failure to correct
     deficiencies upon FRA's
     request.
    (d) OJT program           2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
     requirements or failure
     to make reference
     materials available.
    (e-f) Program validation  2,000                 4,000
243.105 Claiming optional     2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
 model program is FRA-
 approved, when it is not:.
243.109 Training program
 submission, review, and
 approval process:
    (a) Failure to timely     2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
     resubmit program.
    (b) Failure to timely     2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
     submit informational
     filing.
    (c) Failure to submit     4,500                 6,500
     new portions or
     revisions.
    (d) Railroad failure to   1,000                 2,000
     serve program.
243.111 Approval of programs
 filed by training
 organizations or learning
 institutions:
    (a-b) Claiming training   2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
     is FRA-approved, when
     it is not.
    (c-f) FRA approved some   2,000-4,500           4,000-6,500
     training, but all
     conditions not met.
    (g-h) Records...........  1,000                 2,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Subpart C--Program Implementation and Oversight Requirements
------------------------------------------------------------------------
243.201 Employee qualification requirements:
    (a-b) Failure to          1,000                 2,000
     designate an employee.
    (c-f) Other failures and  1,000                 2,000
     refresher training (per
     employee).
243.203 Records:
    (a-f) Failure to          1,000                 2,000
     maintain records (per
     employee).
243.205 Periodic oversight..  4,500-9,500           6,500-13,000
243.207 Annual review.......  4,500                 6,500
243.209 Railroad maintained   4,500                 6,500
 list of contractors
 utilized.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ A penalty may be assessed against an individual only for a willful
  violation. The Administrator reserves the right to assess a penalty of
  up to $100,000 for any violation where circumstances warrant. See 49
  CFR part 209, appendix A.


    Issued in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2014.
Melissa L. Porter,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2014-26290 Filed 11-6-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P