[Federal Register Volume 89, Number 77 (Friday, April 19, 2024)]
[Page 28844]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2024-08365]



Federal Railroad Administration

[Docket Number FRA-2023-0095]

Petition for Waiver of Compliance

    Under part 211 of title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this 
document provides the public notice that on October 17, 2023, Amtrak 
petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a waiver of 
compliance from certain provisions of the Federal railroad safety 
regulations contained at 49 CFR part 229 (Railroad Locomotive Safety 
Standards). FRA assigned the petition Docket Number FRA-2023-0095.
    Amtrak's petition seeks FRA approval to install on its locomotive 
fleet, equipment designed to improve shunting of railroad track 
circuits and reduce the potential for a loss of shunt (LoS) incident (a 
shunt enhancer antenna). LoS within a track circuit causes a signal 
system or grade crossing system to not detect the presence of a train, 
significantly increasing the risk of train-to-train collisions and 
crossing accidents. Known causes of LoS include contaminants on the 
wheel or rail and locomotive weight, with contributing factors 
including the number of axles in a train, train speed, wheel profile, 
and weather. FRA recognizes that a LoS event is a significant safety 
concern, resulting in both activation failures at equipped highway-rail 
grade crossings and false proceed signals.
    Over the last five years, an industry-led working group, the LoS 
Committee, supported by FRA, has expended significant effort and 
funding to investigate LoS events, evaluate LoS causes, identify 
potential solutions, and to test those solutions. The shunt enhancer 
antenna has been identified, tested, and recommended by the LoS 
Committee. The LoS Committee confirmed that the shunt enhancer antenna 
``reliably demonstrate[s] improvement of a vehicle's interaction with 
the wayside track circuits.''
    Amtrak seeks relief from 49 CFR 229.71, Clearance above top of 
rail, to implement the locomotive-mounted shunt enhancer antenna. 
Section 229.71 states that no part or appliance of a locomotive 
(excepting ``the wheels, flexible nonmetallic sand pipe extension tips, 
and trip cock arms'') may be within 2.5 inches from the top of rail. 
Amtrak seeks to install the shunt enhancers on its fleet of Siemens 
Charger SF4 locomotives. Amtrak explains that under conditions of worn 
wheels and dynamic profiles, the mechanical and electrical hardware of 
the truck-mounted antenna devices could protrude below 2.5 inches from 
the top of rail.
    FRA understands the proposed shunt enhancer antenna is a truck-
mounted antenna that injects a 2-4 amp, 165kHz signal into the rail.
    A copy of the petition, as well as any written communications 
concerning the petition, is available for review online at 
    Interested parties are invited to participate in these proceedings 
by submitting written views, data, or comments. FRA does not anticipate 
scheduling a public hearing in connection with these proceedings since 
the facts do not appear to warrant a hearing. If any interested parties 
desire an opportunity for oral comment and a public hearing, they 
should notify FRA, in writing, before the end of the comment period and 
specify the basis for their request.
    All communications concerning these proceedings should identify the 
appropriate docket number and may be submitted at www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
    Communications received by June 18, 2024 will be considered by FRA 
before final action is taken. Comments received after that date will be 
considered if practicable.
    Anyone can 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.). 
Under 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better 
inform its processes. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including 
any personal information the commenter provides, to 
www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/
ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at https://www.transportation.gov/privacy. See also https://www.regulations.gov/privacy-notice for the 
privacy notice of regulations.gov.

    Issued in Washington, DC.
John Karl Alexy,
Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety, Chief Safety Officer.
[FR Doc. 2024-08365 Filed 4-18-24; 8:45 am]