FRA Requiring Locks for Locomotive Cabs

A final rule being published April 9 includes a requirement for "securement devices." It was requested by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen after a conductor was killed during a 2010 robbery.

The Federal Railroad Administration has published a final rule updating its railroad locomotive safety standards, saying in the rule that the changes incorporate existing industry and engineering best practices related to locomotives and to the electronics in them. One significant change is the added requirement that new and remanufactured locomotives be equipped with a "securement device" -– a lock -– to prevent unauthorized intrusions.

This results from a request made two years ago by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen after a CSX conductor, Fred Gibbs, was shot to death in the cab of his train’s lead locomotive during a June 2010 robbery.

The union's president, Dennis Pierce, wrote a letter on Sept. 22, 2010, to FRA's administrator asking for greater security of cabs to protect train crews. Pierce noted an engineer was wounded during the same event in which Gibbs was killed by an intruder who entered the cab while their train was being held on a siding.

Pierce cited data from two surveys showing that most BLET members could not secure their cabs from such an attack. According to BLET, Gibbs died four days after the release of the Teamsters High Alert 2 rail security report, which said 51 percent of train crews surveyed had no way to lock or secure their locomotive cab against unauthorized access while occupied and 73 percent had no way to lock it while it was unoccupied.

The new FRA final rule is effective June 8, 2012. It changes the existing requirement for periodic inspections of locomotives to provide for a 184-day inspection interval for any locomotive equipped with microprocessor-based control systems with self-diagnostic capabilities. This change alone will produce $378 million in savings for railroads during the next 20 years, far more than the rule's $27.7 million in total costs of the rule during that period, FRA estimates.

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