[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 27, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 70888-70890]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28406]



Federal Railroad Administration

49 CFR Part 236

[Docket No. FRA-2001-10160, Notice No. 5]

Need for Agency Approval of a Railroad's Use of Certain 
Technology That Has Been Previously Approved for Use by a Different 

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

ACTION: Interim statement of agency interpretation, with request for 
public comment.


SUMMARY: FRA is providing interim guidance on a railroad's use of 
processor-based signal or train control technology subject to the 
requirements of 49 CFR part 236, subpart H, in the situation where the 
railroad has not previously obtained FRA's approval to use the 
technology, but a different railroad has already received FRA's 
approval to do so. Under these regulations, any railroad seeking to use 
signal or train control technology subject to the regulations must 
first adopt both a Railroad Safety Program

[[Page 70889]]

Plan and a Product Safety Plan covering the technology that have been 
approved by FRA. If FRA has already approved the use of a certain 
processor-based signal or train control technology by one railroad 
pursuant to that railroad's plans, a different railroad (a third-party 
railroad) may use as a model the Railroad Safety Program Plan and 
Product Safety Plan of the railroad that has FRA's approval for use of 
the technology, and the third-party railroad must submit its own plans 
and obtain FRA's approval before using the technology. FRA anticipates 
that there will be some railroad-by-railroad variances that will not be 
safety-critical, and such variances are required to be specified and 
are also subject to FRA approval.

DATES: This document is effective on November 27, 2013. Public comments 
on the interim interpretation are due by January 27, 2014. Late-filed 
comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the interim interpretation set 
forth in this document, identified as Docket No. FRA-2001-10160, Notice 
No. 5,\1\ by any of the following methods:

    \1\ Prior to publication of the interim interpretation, FRA 
published a total of four documents in the Federal Register under 
Docket No. FRA-2001-10160.

     Web site: The Federal eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the Web site's online instructions for 
submitting comments.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 
     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 for this interim statement of agency policy and 
interpretation. Note that all submissions received will be posted 
without change to http://www.regulations.gov including any personal 
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov 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.

Scientific/Technical Advisor, Office of Safety Assurance and 
Compliance, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 
(telephone: (202) 493-1332), email (mark.hartong@dot.gov); Mr. Jason 
Schlosberg, Office of Chief Counsel, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 493-6032), email 
(jason.schlosberg@dot.gov); or Mr. Matthew Prince, Office of Chief 
Counsel, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 
(telephone: (202) 493-6146), email (matthew.prince@dot.gov).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FRA's regulations at Subpart H of 49 CFR 
part 236 (Subpart H), most of which FRA issued in 2005, set forth 
minimum performance standards for the development and use of certain 
technologies, namely safety-critical processor-based signal or train 
control systems, including subsystems and components thereof, developed 
under the terms and conditions of that subpart. See 70 FR 11095 (Mar. 
7, 2005); 49 CFR 236.0(h), 236.901. The term ``processor-based'' means 
dependent on a digital processor in order to function properly. See 49 
CFR 236.903. The subpart does not apply to a processor-based signal or 
train control system (including a subsystem or component thereof) that 
was in service as of June 6, 2005. See 49 CFR 236.911(a). For brevity, 
the subpart defines the term ``product'' to mean ``a processor-based 
signal or train control system, subsystem, or component.'' See 49 CFR 
    Under Subpart H, a railroad that wishes to develop and use a 
safety-critical product or products covered by Subpart H must develop a 
Railroad Safety Program Plan (RSPP). The RSPP is intended to serve as 
the railroad's principal safety document for all of the railroad's 
safety-critical products subject to Subpart H. The railroad's RSPP must 
outline its methods of evaluation, risk assessment, safety assessment, 
system verification and validation, human factors analysis, and 
configuration management practices for all of its products subject to 
Subpart H. Using the methods described in its RSPP, the railroad then 
must develop a Product Safety Plan (PSP), for each product, which is 
intended to describe in detail all of the safety aspects of each 
particular product. Then the railroad must submit its RSPP and PSP(s) 
to FRA for approval. See 49 CFR 236.905(c) and 236.913.
    FRA recognizes that Subpart H does not explicitly discuss how a 
third party may use the same processor-based signal or train control 
technology after FRA has approved it for use on the basis of a 
different railroad's PSP. However, FRA did discuss the potential for 
``portable'' PSPs to be used by multiple railroads. See 70 FR 11080. 
This Interim Statement of Agency Interpretation describes the process 
by which a railroad may most readily receive FRA's approval for the 
railroad's implementation and use of a technology subject to Subpart H, 
where the technology has previously been approved for use by another 
railroad. This Interim Statement of Agency Interpretation does not 
amend Subpart H, but rather provides public notice of the standards 
that FRA will use to evaluate a PSP submitted under Subpart H by a 
third-party railroad. As indicated above, this interpretation becomes 
effective upon publication. RSPPs and PSPs that were acceptable prior 
to the effective date of this document will not be rendered 
unacceptable by this document; therefore, prior notice of the 
interpretation is not necessary.
    Any third-party railroad seeking to implement a product subject to 
Subpart H must first develop and adopt its own RSPP in accordance with 
49 CFR 236.905. This holds true even where a railroad will only be 
using technologies subject to an FRA-approved PSP developed by a 
different railroad. The third-party railroad must then submit an 
informational filing or petition for approval of a PSP in accordance 
with 49 CFR 236.913. An RSPP and PSP are necessary in order for a 
railroad to establish the performance requirements to which it will be 
held by FRA, and an RSPP and PSP are, therefore, required even for the 
use of previously-approved technologies. If a railroad submits an RSPP 
that includes only minor, non-safety-critical changes from an RSPP 
previously-approved by FRA and if the railroad indicates both the 
source of the RSPP and the variances from the FRA-approved version, FRA 
anticipates few difficulties in the RSPP-approval process. If a 
railroad does not plan to develop a PSP independently, the most 
important element of the RSPP is the ``configuration management control 
plan'' required by 49 CFR 236.905(b)(4).
    Similarly, if a third-party railroad submits a PSP for a product 
based upon a PSP for the same product that was previously approved by 
FRA and if the third-party railroad identifies all variances in the 
product and its use from the approved version, FRA expects that the 
review process will focus only on those areas where variances exist in 
the product design or intended use. Where a PSP makes reference to a

[[Page 70890]]

previously-approved PSP, it is not necessary for a railroad to resubmit 
design information to demonstrate that the development of the 
technology complies with Subpart H, except where development changes 
were made from the approved version of the technology. Accordingly, in 
such cases the elements of the PSP defined in 49 CFR 236.907(a)(1)-
(a)(11) are satisfied if the applicant makes explicit reference to an 
FRA-approved PSP; \2\ the content of the original PSP relating to those 
paragraphs need not be repeated in the third-party PSP filings. 
However, because paragraphs (a)(12)-(a)(20) of 49 CFR 236.907 address a 
railroad's use of the technology, including training, installation, 
maintenance, security, and other elements, information called for by 
these paragraphs must be included within the third-party's PSP 
expressly. A railroad may choose to copy these elements from an 
approved PSP, and FRA encourages this practice, but it is necessary for 
railroads to explicitly adopt the practices required for the use of the 
technology. This reiteration of the description of these required 
practices will ensure that a railroad has adequate notice of its 
obligations under its PSP, which are subject to enforcement under 
Subpart H. If variances exist in the third-party railroad's PSP 
information responsive to paragraphs (a)(12)-(a)(20) of 49 CFR 236.907, 
then those variances must be supported by the safety analysis of the 
original railroad or the third-party railroad contained within the RSPP 
and material in the PSP responsive to paragraphs (a)(1)-(a)(11) of 49 
CFR 236.907.

    \2\ Note that FRA approvals of PSPs are published on 
regulations.gov. Generally, railroads would know of the approved PSP 
for a product from the supplier of the product.

    Once FRA approves a railroad's PSP (submitted through either an 
informational filing or a petition for approval), the submitting 
railroad becomes subject to Subpart H in its entirety, including the 
requirement set forth in 49 CFR 236.915 that the railroad comply with 
the terms of its FRA-approved PSP.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 20102-20103, 20107, 20133, 20141, 20157, 
20301-20303, 20306, 20701-20703, 21301-21302, 21304; 28 U.S.C. 2461, 
note; and 49 CFR 1.89.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 21, 2013.
Melissa L. Porter,
Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration.
[FR Doc. 2013-28406 Filed 11-26-13; 8:45 am]