FRA extends Part 243 implementation deadline by full year

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has extended the implementation dates of Part 243 Minimum Training Standards by one year according to a notice in the May 3 edition of the Federal Register.

Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 243, Training, Qualifications, and Oversight for Safety-Related Railroad Employees requires each railroad or contractor that employs one or more safety-related railroad employees 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 employees and develop annual written reviews of their training programs to close performance gaps.

The rule was published on Nov. 7, 2014, and is significant as it places railroad contractors under direct regulation of the FRA for the first time.

Employers with more than 400,000 employee work hours now have until Jan. 1, 2019 to submit training programs to the FRA and employers with less than 400,000 employee work hours have until May 1, 2020 to submit programs. Additionally, training organizations and learning institutions (TO/LI) that have provided training to safety-related employees prior to Jan. 1, 2018 may continue without FRA approval until Jan. 1, 2019. Instead of a May 1, 2017, implementation date, model program developers will have until May 1, 2018, for their programs to be considered approved by FRA and can be implemented 180 days after the date of submission.

FRA said the extension is being granted “because model training program developers alerted FRA they will not be able to timely produce model programs that an estimated 1,459 railroads and contractors are expected to use to comply with the rule’s program submission requirements.”

FRA cited concerns presented by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) and National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) surrounding the time frame for implementation as part of the reason for the extension. FRA says the additional time will help model training program developers, such as ASLRRA and NRC, comply with the final rule.


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