Better Emergency Lighting Coming to Passenger Railcars

The Federal Railroad Administration's new proposed rule also would require photoluminescent and electrically powered low-location emergency exit path markings, and using high-performance photoluminescent material for emergency signs.

A Jan. 2 notice of proposed rulemaking from the Federal Railroad Administration will expand FRA's existing requirements for emergency exit and access systems on passenger trains. The rule would set requirements for interior vestibule doors, photoluminescent and electrically powered low-location emergency exit path markings, and using high-performance photoluminescent material for emergency signs.

The agency said these changes will help passengers reach and operate primary emergency exits, particularly in darkness or smoke. Some would apply only to new railcars, but the additions affecting emergency lighting standards would apply to existing passenger cars, as well. They include requirements to improve the survivability of emergency lighting systems in new passenger cars.

FRA will accept written comments until March 5 and said it expects to finish the rulemaking without a public hearing. However, if a specific request for a public hearing arrives before Feb. 2, the agency will schedule one. Submit comments by searching Docket No. FRA-2006-25273 at www.regulations.gov.

The agency said the use of high-performance photoluminescent (HPPL) material and new policies and procedures for ensuring proper placement and testing of photoluminescent materials will ensure maximum illumination in an emergency situation. "Existing signage inside some passenger compartment areas within a passenger car has been neffective due to their inability to absorb sufficient levels of mbient or electrical light," it stated in the NPRM. "The requirements in this proposal would improve illumination of signage and marking in the passenger compartment, and thus increase the discernability of the exit signs and markings in the dark."

The estimated 20-year cost of complying with the rule is $13.4 million, it states.

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