Home
gpo.gov
govinfo.gov

e-CFR Navigation Aids

Browse

Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity

 

Search History

Search Tips

Corrections

Latest Updates

User Info

FAQs

Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

We invite you to try out our new beta eCFR site at https://ecfr.federalregister.gov. We???ve made big changes to make the eCFR easier to use. Be sure to leave feedback using the Help button on the bottom right of each page!

e-CFR data is current as of August 12, 2020

Title 49Subtitle BChapter IIPart 213 → Subpart D


Title 49: Transportation
PART 213—TRACK SAFETY STANDARDS


Subpart D—Track Structure


Contents
§213.101   Scope.
§213.103   Ballast; general.
§213.109   Crossties.
§213.110   Gage restraint measurement systems.
§213.113   Defective rails.
§213.115   Rail end mismatch.
§213.118   Continuous welded rail (CWR); plan review and approval.
§213.119   Continuous welded rail (CWR); plan contents.
§213.121   Rail joints.
§213.122   Torch cut rail.
§213.123   Tie plates.
§213.127   Rail fastening systems.
§213.133   Turnouts and track crossings generally.
§213.135   Switches.
§213.137   Frogs.
§213.139   Spring rail frogs.
§213.141   Self-guarded frogs.
§213.143   Frog guard rails and guard faces; gage.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.101   Scope.

This subpart prescribes minimum requirements for ballast, crossties, track assembly fittings, and the physical conditions of rails.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.103   Ballast; general.

Unless it is otherwise structurally supported, all track shall be supported by material which will—

(a) Transmit and distribute the load of the track and railroad rolling equipment to the subgrade;

(b) Restrain the track laterally, longitudinally, and vertically under dynamic loads imposed by railroad rolling equipment and thermal stress exerted by the rails;

(c) Provide adequate drainage for the track; and

(d) Maintain proper track crosslevel, surface, and alinement.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.109   Crossties.

(a) Crossties shall be made of a material to which rail can be securely fastened.

(b) Each 39-foot segment of track shall have at a minimum—

(1) A sufficient number of crossties that in combination provide effective support that will—

(i) Hold gage within the limits prescribed in §213.53(b);

(ii) Maintain surface within the limits prescribed in §213.63; and

(iii) Maintain alinement within the limits prescribed in §213.55;

(2) The minimum number and type of crossties specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section and described in paragraph (c) or (d), as applicable, of this section effectively distributed to support the entire segment;

(3) At least one non-defective crosstie of the type specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section that is located at a joint location as specified in paragraph (e) of this section; and

(4) The minimum number of crossties as indicated in the following table.

FRA track classTangent track, turnouts, and curves
Tangent track and curved track less than or equal to 2 degreesTurnouts and curved track greater than 2 degrees
Class 156
Class 289
Class 3810
Class 4 and 51214

(c) Crossties, other than concrete, counted to satisfy the requirements set forth in paragraph (b)(4) of this section shall not be—

(1) Broken through;

(2) Split or otherwise impaired to the extent the crosstie will allow the ballast to work through, or will not hold spikes or rail fasteners;

(3) So deteriorated that the crosstie plate or base of rail can move laterally 12 inch relative to the crosstie; or

(4) Cut by the crosstie plate through more than 40 percent of a crosstie's thickness.

(d) Concrete crossties counted to satisfy the requirements set forth in paragraph (b)(4) of this section shall not be—

(1) Broken through or deteriorated to the extent that prestressing material is visible;

(2) Deteriorated or broken off in the vicinity of the shoulder or insert so that the fastener assembly can either pull out or move laterally more than 38 inch relative to the crosstie;

(3) Deteriorated such that the base of either rail can move laterally more than 38 inch relative to the crosstie on curves of 2 degrees or greater; or can move laterally more than 12 inch relative to the crosstie on tangent track or curves of less than 2 degrees;

(4) Deteriorated or abraded at any point under the rail seat to a depth of 12 inch or more;

(5) Deteriorated such that the crosstie's fastening or anchoring system, including rail anchors (see §213.127(b)), is unable to maintain longitudinal rail restraint, or maintain rail hold down, or maintain gage due to insufficient fastener toeload; or

(6) Configured with less than two fasteners on the same rail except as provided in §213.127(c).

(e) Class 1 and 2 track shall have one crosstie whose centerline is within 24 inches of each rail joint (end) location. Class 3, 4, and 5 track shall have either one crosstie whose centerline is within 18 inches of each rail joint location or two crossties whose centerlines are within 24 inches either side of each rail joint location. The relative position of these crossties is described in the following three diagrams:

(1) Each rail joint in Class 1 and 2 track shall be supported by at least one crosstie specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section whose centerline is within 48 inches as shown in Figure 1.

eCFR graphic er01ap11.002.gif

View or download PDF

(2) Each rail joint in Class 3, 4, and 5 track shall be supported by either at least one crosstie specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section whose centerline is within 36 inches as shown in Figure 2, or:

eCFR graphic er01ap11.046.gif

View or download PDF

(3) Two crossties, one on each side of the rail joint, whose centerlines are within 24 inches of the rail joint location as shown in Figure 3.

eCFR graphic er01ap11.003.gif

View or download PDF

(f) For track constructed without crossties, such as slab track, track connected directly to bridge structural components, track over servicing pits, etc., the track structure shall meet the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

[76 FR 18084, Apr. 1, 2011]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.110   Gage restraint measurement systems.

(a) A track owner may elect to implement a Gage Restraint Measurement System (GRMS), supplemented by the use of a Portable Track Loading Fixture (PTLF), to determine compliance with the crosstie and fastener requirements specified in §§213.109 and 213.127 provided that—

(1) The track owner notifies the appropriate FRA Regional office at least 30 days prior to the designation of any line segment on which GRMS technology will be implemented; and

(2) The track owner notifies the appropriate FRA Regional office at least 10 days prior to the removal of any line segment from GRMS designation.

(b) Initial notification under paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall include—

(1) Identification of the line segment(s) by timetable designation, milepost limits, class of track, or other identifying criteria; and

(2) The most recent record of million gross tons of traffic per year over the identified segment(s).

(c)(1) The track owner shall also provide to FRA sufficient technical data to establish compliance with the following minimum design requirements of a GRMS vehicle:

(2) Gage restraint shall be measured between the heads of rail—

(i) At an interval not exceeding 16 inches;

(ii) Under an applied vertical load of no less than 10 kips per rail; and

(iii) Under an applied lateral load that provides for a lateral/vertical load ratio of between 0.5 and 1.255, and a load severity greater than 3 kips but less than 8 kips per rail.

5GRMS equipment using load combinations developing L/V ratios that exceed 0.8 shall be operated with caution to protect against the risk of wheel climb by the test wheelset.

(d) Load severity is defined by the formula:

S = L−cV

Where—

S = Load severity, defined as the lateral load applied to the fastener system (kips).

L = Actual lateral load applied (kips).

c = Coefficient of friction between rail/tie, which is assigned a nominal value of 0.4.

V = Actual vertical load applied (kips), or static vertical wheel load if vertical load is not measured.

(e) The measured gage values shall be converted to a Projected Loaded Gage 24 (PLG24) as follows—

PLG24 = UTG + A × (LTG−UTG)

Where—

UTG = Unloaded track gage measured by the GRMS vehicle at a point no less than 10 feet from any lateral or vertical load application.

LTG = Loaded track gage measured by the GRMS vehicle at a point no more than 12 inches from the lateral load application point.

A = The extrapolation factor used to convert the measured loaded gage to expected loaded gage under a 24-kip lateral load and a 33-kip vertical load.

For all track—

eCFR graphic er13mr13.010.gif

View or download PDF

Note: The A factor shall not exceed a value of 3.184 under any valid loading configuration.

L = Actual lateral load applied (kips).

V = Actual vertical load applied (kips), or static vertical wheel load if vertical load is not measured.

(f) The measured gage and load values shall be converted to a Gage Widening Projection (GWP) as follows:

eCFR graphic er13mr13.011.gif

View or download PDF

(g) The GRMS vehicle shall be capable of producing output reports that provide a trace, on a constant-distance scale, of all parameters specified in paragraph (l) of this section.

(h) The GRMS vehicle shall be capable of providing an exception report containing a systematic listing of all exceptions, by magnitude and location, to all the parameters specified in paragraph (l) of this section.

(i) The exception reports required by this section shall be provided to the appropriate person designated as fully qualified under §213.7 prior to the next inspection required under §213.233.

(j) The track owner shall institute the necessary procedures for maintaining the integrity of the data collected by the GRMS and PTLF systems. At a minimum, the track owner shall—

(1) Maintain and make available to the Federal Railroad Administration documented calibration procedures on each GRMS vehicle which, at a minimum, shall specify a daily instrument verification procedure that will ensure correlation between measurements made on the ground and those recorded by the instrumentation with respect to loaded and unloaded gage parameters; and

(2) Maintain each PTLF used for determining compliance with the requirements of this section such that the 4,000-pound reading is accurate to within five percent of that reading.

(k) The track owner shall provide training in GRMS technology to all persons designated as fully qualified under §213.7 and whose territories are subject to the requirements of this section. The training program shall be made available to the Federal Railroad Administration upon request. At a minimum, the training program shall address—

(1) Basic GRMS procedures;

(2) Interpretation and handling of exception reports generated by the GRMS vehicle;

(3) Locating and verifying defects in the field;

(4) Remedial action requirements;

(5) Use and calibration of the PTLF; and

(6) Recordkeeping requirements.

(l) The GRMS record of lateral restraint shall identify two exception levels. At a minimum, the track owner shall initiate the required remedial action at each exception level as defined in the following table—

GRMS parameters1If measurement value exceedsRemedial action required
First Level Exception
UTG58 inches(1) Immediately protect the exception location with a 10 m.p.h. speed restriction, then verify location;
(2) Restore lateral restraint and maintain in compliance with PTLF criteria as described in paragraph (m) of this section; and
(3) Maintain compliance with §213.53(b) as measured with the PTLF.
LTG58 inches
PLG2459 inches
GWP1 inch
Second Level Exception
LTG57 34 inches on Class 4 and 5 track2(1) Limit operating speed to no more than the maximum allowable under §213.9 for Class 3 track, then verify location;
(2) Maintain in compliance with PTLF criteria as described in paragraph (m) of this section; and
(3) Maintain compliance with §213.53(b) as measured with the PTLF.
PLG2458 inches
GWP0.75 inch

1Definitions for the GRMS parameters referenced in this table are found in paragraph (p) of this section.

2This note recognizes that good track will typically increase in total gage by as much as one-quarter of an inch due to outward rail rotation under GRMS loading conditions. For Class 2 and 3 track, the GRMS LTG values are also increased by one-quarter of inch to a maximum of 58 inches. However, for any class of track, GRMS LTG values in excess of 58 inches are considered First Level exceptions and the appropriate remedial action(s) must be taken by the track owner. This 1/4-inch increase in allowable gage applies only to GRMS LTG. For gage measured by traditional methods, or with the use of the PTLF, the table in §213.53(b) applies.

(m) Between GRMS inspections, the PTLF may be used as an additional analytical tool to assist fully qualified §213.7 individuals in determining compliance with the crosstie and fastener requirements of §§213.109 and 213.127. When the PTLF is used, whether as an additional analytical tool or to fulfill the requirements of paragraph (l), it shall be used subject to the following criteria—

(1) At any location along the track that the PTLF is applied, that location will be deemed in compliance with the crosstie and fastener requirements specified in §§213.109 and 213.127 provided that—

(i) The total gage widening at that location does not exceed 58 inch when increasing the applied force from 0 to 4,000 pounds; and

(ii) The gage of the track under 4,000 pounds of applied force does not exceed the allowable gage prescribed in §213.53(b) for the class of track.

(2) Gage widening in excess of 58 inch shall constitute a deviation from Class 1 standards.

(3) A person designated as fully qualified under §213.7 retains the discretionary authority to prescribe additional remedial actions for those locations which comply with the requirements of paragraph (m)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section.

(4) When a functional PTLF is not available to a fully qualified person designated under §213.7, the criteria for determining crosstie and fastener compliance shall be based solely on the requirements specified in §§213.109 and 213.127.

(5) If the PTLF becomes non-functional or is missing, the track owner will replace or repair it before the next inspection required under §213.233.

(6) Where vertical loading of the track is necessary for contact with the lateral rail restraint components, a PTLF test will not be considered valid until contact with these components is restored under static loading conditions.

(n) The track owner shall maintain a record of the two most recent GRMS inspections at locations which meet the requirements specified in §213.241(b). At a minimum, records shall indicate the following—

(1) Location and nature of each First Level exception; and

(2) Nature and date of remedial action, if any, for each exception identified in paragraph (n)(1) of this section.

(o) The inspection interval for designated GRMS line segments shall be such that—

(1) On line segments where the annual tonnage exceeds two million gross tons, or where the maximum operating speeds for passenger trains exceeds 30 mph, GRMS inspections must be performed annually at an interval not to exceed 14 months; or

(2) On line segments where the annual tonnage is two million gross tons or less and the maximum operating speed for passenger trains does not exceed 30 mph, the interval between GRMS inspections must not exceed 24 months.

(p) As used in this section—

(1) Gage Restraint Measurement System (GRMS) means a track loading vehicle meeting the minimum design requirements specified in this section.

(2) Gage Widening Projection (GWP) means the measured gage widening, which is the difference between loaded and unloaded gage, at the applied loads, projected to reference loads of 16 kips of lateral force and 33 kips of vertical force.

(3) L/V ratio means the numerical ratio of lateral load applied at a point on the rail to the vertical load applied at that same point. GRMS design requirements specify an L/V ratio of between 0.5 and 1.25.

(4) Load severity means the amount of lateral load applied to the fastener system after friction between rail and tie is overcome by any applied gage-widening lateral load.

(5) Loaded Track Gage (LTG) means the gage measured by the GRMS vehicle at a point no more than 12 inches from the lateral load application point.

(6) Portable Track Loading Fixture (PTLF) means a portable track loading device capable of applying an increasing lateral force from 0 to 4,000 pounds on the web/base fillet of each rail simultaneously.

(7) Projected Loaded Gage (PLG) means an extrapolated value for loaded gage calculated from actual measured loads and deflections. PLG 24 means the extrapolated value for loaded gage under a 24,000 pound lateral load and a 33,000 pound vertical load.

(8) Unloaded Track Gage (UTG) means the gage measured by the GRMS vehicle at a point no less than 10 feet from any lateral or vertical load.

[66 FR 1899, Jan. 10, 2001; 66 FR 8372, Jan. 31, 2001, as amended at 78 FR 16102, Mar. 13, 2013]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.113   Defective rails.

(a) When an owner of track learns that a rail in the track contains any of the defects listed in the table contained in paragraph (c) of this section, a person designated under §213.7 shall determine whether the track may continue in use. If the designated person determines that the track may continue in use, operation over the defective rail is not permitted until—

(1) The rail is replaced or repaired; or

(2) The remedial action prescribed in the table contained in paragraph (c) of this section is initiated.

(b) When an owner of track learns that a rail in the track contains an indication of any of the defects listed in the table contained in paragraph (c) of this section, the track owner shall verify the indication. The track owner must verify the indication within four hours, unless the track owner has an indication of the existence of a defect that requires remedial action A, A2, or B identified in the table contained in paragraph (c) of this section, in which case the track owner must immediately verify the indication. If the indication is verified, the track owner must—

(1) Replace or repair the rail; or

(2) Initiate the remedial action prescribed in the table contained in paragraph (c) of this section.

(c) A track owner who learns that a rail contains one of the following defects shall prescribe the remedial action specified if the rail is not replaced or repaired, in accordance with this paragraph's table:

eCFR graphic er29ja14.000.gif

View or download PDF

eCFR graphic er29ja14.001.gif

View or download PDF

eCFR graphic er29ja14.002.gif

View or download PDF

(d) As used in this section—

(1) Bolt hole crack means a crack across the web, originating from a bolt hole, and progressing on a path either inclined upward toward the rail head or inclined downward toward the base. Fully developed bolt hole cracks may continue horizontally along the head/web or base/web fillet, or they may progress into and through the head or base to separate a piece of the rail end from the rail. Multiple cracks occurring in one rail end are considered to be a single defect. However, bolt hole cracks occurring in adjacent rail ends within the same joint must be reported as separate defects.

(2) Broken base means any break in the base of the rail.

(3) Compound fissure means a progressive fracture originating from a horizontal split head that turns up or down, or in both directions, in the head of the rail. Transverse development normally progresses substantially at a right angle to the length of the rail.

(4) Crushed head means a short length of rail, not at a joint, which has drooped or sagged across the width of the rail head to a depth of 38 inch or more below the rest of the rail head and 8 inches or more in length. Unlike flattened rail where the depression is visible on the rail head only, the sagging or drooping is also visible in the head/web fillet area.

(5) Damaged rail means any rail broken or otherwise damaged by a derailment, broken, flat, or unbalanced wheel, wheel slipping, or similar causes.

(6) Defective weld means a field or plant weld containing any discontinuities or pockets, exceeding 5 percent of the rail head area individually or 10 percent in the aggregate, oriented in or near the transverse plane, due to incomplete penetration of the weld metal between the rail ends, lack of fusion between weld and rail end metal, entrainment of slag or sand, under-bead or shrinkage cracking, or fatigue cracking. Weld defects may originate in the rail head, web, or base, and in some cases, cracks may progress from the defect into either or both adjoining rail ends. If the weld defect progresses longitudinally through the weld section, the defect is considered a split web for purposes of remedial action required by this section.

(7) Detail fracture means a progressive fracture originating at or near the surface of the rail head. These fractures should not be confused with transverse fissures, compound fissures, or other defects which have internal origins. Detail fractures may arise from shelled spots, head checks, or flaking.

(8) Engine burn fracture means a progressive fracture originating in spots where driving wheels have slipped on top of the rail head. In developing downward these fractures frequently resemble the compound or even transverse fissures with which they should not be confused or classified.

(9) Flattened rail means a short length of rail, not at a joint, which has flattened out across the width of the rail head to a depth of 38 inch or more below the rest of the rail and 8 inches or more in length. Flattened rail occurrences have no repetitive regularity and thus do not include corrugations, and have no apparent localized cause such as a weld or engine burn. Their individual length is relatively short, as compared to a condition such as head flow on the low rail of curves.

(10) Head and web separation means a progressive fracture, longitudinally separating the head from the web of the rail at the head fillet area.

(11) Horizontal split head means a horizontal progressive defect originating inside of the rail head, usually 14 inch or more below the running surface and progressing horizontally in all directions, and generally accompanied by a flat spot on the running surface. The defect appears as a crack lengthwise of the rail when it reaches the side of the rail head.

(12) Ordinary break means a partial or complete break in which there is no sign of a fissure, and in which none of the other defects described in this paragraph (d) is found.

(13) Piped rail means a vertical split in a rail, usually in the web, due to failure of the shrinkage cavity in the ingot to unite in rolling.

(14) Split web means a lengthwise crack along the side of the web and extending into or through it.

(15) Transverse fissure means a progressive crosswise fracture starting from a crystalline center or nucleus inside the head from which it spreads outward as a smooth, bright, or dark round or oval surface substantially at a right angle to the length of the rail. The distinguishing features of a transverse fissure from other types of fractures or defects are the crystalline center or nucleus and the nearly smooth surface of the development which surrounds it.

(16) Vertical split head means a vertical split through or near the middle of the head, and extending into or through it. A crack or rust streak may show under the head close to the web or pieces may be split off the side of the head.

[79 FR 4256, Jan. 24, 2014; 79 FR 4633, Jan. 29, 2014]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.115   Rail end mismatch.

Any mismatch of rails at joints may not be more than that prescribed by the following table—

Class of trackAny mismatch of rails at joints may not be more than the following—
On the tread of the rail ends (inch)On the gage side of the rail ends (inch)
Class 1 track 14 14
Class 2 track 14 316
Class 3 track 316 316
Class 4 and 5 track 18 18

return arrow Back to Top

§213.118   Continuous welded rail (CWR); plan review and approval.

(a) Each track owner with track constructed of CWR shall have in effect and comply with a plan that contains written procedures which address: the installation, adjustment, maintenance, and inspection of CWR; inspection of CWR joints; and a training program for the application of those procedures.

(b) The track owner shall file its CWR plan with the FRA Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer (Associate Administrator). Within 30 days of receipt of the submission, FRA will review the plan for compliance with this subpart. FRA will approve, disapprove or conditionally approve the submitted plan, and will provide written notice of its determination.

(c) The track owner's existing plan shall remain in effect until the track owner's new plan is approved or conditionally approved and is effective pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section.

(d) The track owner shall, upon receipt of FRA's approval or conditional approval, establish the plan's effective date. The track owner shall advise in writing FRA and all affected employees of the effective date.

(e) FRA, for cause stated, may, subsequent to plan approval or conditional approval, require revisions to the plan to bring the plan into conformity with this subpart. Notice of a revision requirement shall be made in writing and specify the basis of FRA's requirement. The track owner may, within 30 days of the revision requirement, respond and provide written submissions in support of the original plan. FRA renders a final decision in writing. Not more than 30 days following any final decision requiring revisions to a CWR plan, the track owner shall amend the plan in accordance with FRA's decision and resubmit the conforming plan. The conforming plan becomes effective upon its submission to FRA.

[74 FR 43002, Aug. 25, 2009]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.119   Continuous welded rail (CWR); plan contents.

The track owner shall comply with the contents of the CWR plan approved or conditionally approved under §213.118. The plan shall contain the following elements—

(a) Procedures for the installation and adjustment of CWR which include—

(1) Designation of a desired rail installation temperature range for the geographic area in which the CWR is located; and

(2) De-stressing procedures/methods which address proper attainment of the desired rail installation temperature range when adjusting CWR.

(b) Rail anchoring or fastening requirements that will provide sufficient restraint to limit longitudinal rail and crosstie movement to the extent practical, and specifically addressing CWR rail anchoring or fastening patterns on bridges, bridge approaches, and at other locations where possible longitudinal rail and crosstie movement associated with normally expected train-induced forces, is restricted.

(c) CWR joint installation and maintenance procedures which require that—

(1) Each rail shall be bolted with at least two bolts at each CWR joint;

(2) In the case of a bolted joint installed during CWR installation after October 21, 2009, the track owner shall either, within 60 days—

(i) Weld the joint;

(ii) Install a joint with six bolts; or

(iii) Anchor every tie 195 feet in both directions from the joint; and

(3) In the case of a bolted joint in CWR experiencing service failure or a failed bar with a rail gap present, the track owner shall either—

(i) Weld the joint;

(ii) Replace the broken bar(s), replace the broken bolts, adjust the anchors and, within 30 days, weld the joint;

(iii) Replace the broken bar(s), replace the broken bolts, install one additional bolt per rail end, and adjust anchors;

(iv) Replace the broken bar(s), replace the broken bolts, and anchor every tie 195 feet in both directions from the CWR joint; or

(v) Replace the broken bar(s), replace the broken bolts, add rail with provisions for later adjustment pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section, and reapply the anchors.

(d) Procedures which specifically address maintaining a desired rail installation temperature range when cutting CWR, including rail repairs, in-track welding, and in conjunction with adjustments made in the area of tight track, a track buckle, or a pull-apart. Rail repair practices shall take into consideration existing rail temperature so that—

(1) When rail is removed, the length installed shall be determined by taking into consideration the existing rail temperature and the desired rail installation temperature range; and

(2) Under no circumstances should rail be added when the rail temperature is below that designated by paragraph (a)(1) of this section, without provisions for later adjustment.

(e) Procedures which address the monitoring of CWR in curved track for inward shifts of alinement toward the center of the curve as a result of disturbed track.

(f) Procedures which govern train speed on CWR track when—

(1) Maintenance work, track rehabilitation, track construction, or any other event occurs which disturbs the roadbed or ballast section and reduces the lateral or longitudinal resistance of the track; and

(2) The difference between the average rail temperature and the average rail neutral temperature is in a range that causes buckling-prone conditions to be present at a specific location; and

(3) In formulating the procedures under paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) of this section, the track owner shall—

(i) Determine the speed required, and the duration and subsequent removal of any speed restriction based on the restoration of the ballast, along with sufficient ballast re-consolidation to stabilize the track to a level that can accommodate expected train-induced forces. Ballast re-consolidation can be achieved through either the passage of train tonnage or mechanical stabilization procedures, or both; and

(ii) Take into consideration the type of crossties used.

(g) Procedures which prescribe when physical track inspections are to be performed.

(1) At a minimum, these procedures shall address inspecting track to identify—

(i) Buckling-prone conditions in CWR track, including—

(A) Locations where tight or kinky rail conditions are likely to occur; and

(B) Locations where track work of the nature described in paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section has recently been performed; and

(ii) Pull-apart prone conditions in CWR track, including locations where pull-apart or stripped-joint rail conditions are likely to occur; and

(2) In formulating the procedures under paragraph (g)(1) of this section, the track owner shall—

(i) Specify when the inspections will be conducted; and

(ii) Specify the appropriate remedial actions to be taken when either buckling-prone or pull-apart prone conditions are found.

(h) Procedures which prescribe the scheduling and conduct of inspections to detect cracks and other indications of potential failures in CWR joints. In formulating the procedures under this paragraph, the track owner shall—

(1) Address the inspection of joints and the track structure at joints, including, at a minimum, periodic on-foot inspections;

(2) Identify joint bars with visible or otherwise detectable cracks and conduct remedial action pursuant to §213.121;

(3) Specify the conditions of actual or potential joint failure for which personnel must inspect, including, at a minimum, the following items:

(i) Loose, bent, or missing joint bolts;

(ii) Rail end batter or mismatch that contributes to instability of the joint; and

(iii) Evidence of excessive longitudinal rail movement in or near the joint, including, but not limited to; wide rail gap, defective joint bolts, disturbed ballast, surface deviations, gap between tie plates and rail, or displaced rail anchors;

(4) Specify the procedures for the inspection of CWR joints that are imbedded in highway-rail crossings or in other structures that prevent a complete inspection of the joint, including procedures for the removal from the joint of loose material or other temporary material;

(5) Specify the appropriate corrective actions to be taken when personnel find conditions of actual or potential joint failure, including on-foot follow-up inspections to monitor conditions of potential joint failure in any period prior to completion of repairs;

(6) Specify the timing of periodic inspections, which shall be based on the configuration and condition of the joint:

(i) Except as provided in paragraphs (h)(6)(ii) through (h)(6)(iv) of this section, track owners must specify that all CWR joints are inspected, at a minimum, in accordance with the intervals identified in the following table:

Minimum Number of Inspections per Calendar Year1

   Freight trains operating over track with an annual tonnage of:Passenger trains operating over track with an annual tonnage of:
Less than 40 mgt40 to 60 mgtGreater than 60 mgtLess than 20 mgtGreater than or equal to 20 mgt
Class 5 & above232423232
Class 423242232
Class 312222
Class 200011
Class 100000
Excepted Track000n/an/a
4 = Four times per calendar year, with one inspection in each of the following periods: January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December; and with consecutive inspections separated by at least 60 calendar days.
3 = Three times per calendar year, with one inspection in each of the following periods: January to April, May to August, and September to December; and with consecutive inspections separated by at least 90 calendar days.
2 = Twice per calendar year, with one inspection in each of the following periods: January to June and July to December; and with consecutive inspections separated by at least 120 calendar days.
1 = Once per calendar year, with consecutive inspections separated by at least 180 calendar days.

1Where a track owner operates both freight and passenger trains over a given segment of track, and there are two different possible inspection interval requirements, the more frequent inspection interval applies.

2When extreme weather conditions prevent a track owner from conducting an inspection of a particular territory within the required interval, the track owner may extend the interval by up to 30 calendar days from the last day that the extreme weather condition prevented the required inspection.

(ii) Consistent with any limitations applied by the track owner, a passenger train conducting an unscheduled detour operation may proceed over track not normally used for passenger operations at a speed not to exceed the maximum authorized speed otherwise allowed, even though CWR joints have not been inspected in accordance with the frequency identified in paragraph (h)(6)(i) of this section, provided that:

(A) All CWR joints have been inspected consistent with requirements for freight service; and

(B) The unscheduled detour operation lasts no more than 14 consecutive calendar days. In order to continue operations beyond the 14-day period, the track owner must inspect the CWR joints in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (h)(6)(i) of this section.

(iii) Tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations, if limited to the maximum authorized speed for passenger trains over the next lower class of track, need not be considered in determining the frequency of inspections under paragraph (h)(6)(i) of this section.

(iv) All CWR joints that are located in switches, turnouts, track crossings, lift rail assemblies or other transition devices on moveable bridges must be inspected on foot at least monthly, consistent with the requirements in §213.235; and all records of those inspections must be kept in accordance with the requirements in §213.241. A track owner may include in its §213.235 inspections, in lieu of the joint inspections required by paragraph (h)(6)(i) of this section, CWR joints that are located in track structure that is adjacent to switches and turnouts, provided that the track owner precisely defines the parameters of that arrangement in the CWR plans.

(7) Specify the recordkeeping requirements related to joint bars in CWR, including the following:

(i) The track owner shall keep a record of each periodic and follow-up inspection required to be performed by the track owner's CWR plan, except for those inspections conducted pursuant to §213.235 for which track owners must maintain records pursuant to §213.241. The record shall be prepared on the day the inspection is made and signed by the person making the inspection. The record shall include, at a minimum, the following items: the boundaries of the territory inspected; the nature and location of any deviations at the joint from the requirements of this part or of the track owner's CWR plan, with the location identified with sufficient precision that personnel could return to the joint and identify it without ambiguity; the date of the inspection; the remedial action, corrective action, or both, that has been taken or will be taken; and the name or identification number of the person who made the inspection.

(ii) [Reserved]

(8) In lieu of the requirements for the inspection of rail joints contained in paragraphs (h)(1) through (h)(7) of this section, a track owner may seek approval from FRA to use alternate procedures.

(i) The track owner shall submit the proposed alternate procedures and a supporting statement of justification to the Associate Administrator.

(ii) If the Associate Administrator finds that the proposed alternate procedures provide an equivalent or higher level of safety than the requirements in paragraphs (h)(1) through (h)(7) of this section, the Associate Administrator will approve the alternate procedures by notifying the track owner in writing. The Associate Administrator will specify in the written notification the date on which the procedures will become effective, and after that date, the track owner shall comply with the procedures. If the Associate Administrator determines that the alternate procedures do not provide an equivalent level of safety, the Associate Administrator will disapprove the alternate procedures in writing, and the track owner shall continue to comply with the requirements in paragraphs (h)(1) through (h)(7) of this section.

(iii) While a determination is pending with the Associate Administrator on a request submitted pursuant to paragraph (h)(8) of this section, the track owner shall continue to comply with the requirements contained in paragraphs (h)(1) through (h)(7) of this section.

(i) The track owner shall have in effect a comprehensive training program for the application of these written CWR procedures, with provisions for annual re-training, for those individuals designated under §213.7(c) as qualified to supervise the installation, adjustment, and maintenance of CWR track and to perform inspections of CWR track. The track owner shall make the training program available for review by FRA upon request.

(j) The track owner shall prescribe and comply with recordkeeping requirements necessary to provide an adequate history of track constructed with CWR. At a minimum, these records must include:

(1) Rail temperature, location, and date of CWR installations. Each record shall be retained for at least one year;

(2) A record of any CWR installation or maintenance work that does not conform to the written procedures. Such record shall include the location of the rail and be maintained until the CWR is brought into conformance with such procedures; and

(3) Information on inspection of rail joints as specified in paragraph (h)(7) of this section.

(k) The track owner shall make readily available, at every job site where personnel are assigned to install, inspect or maintain CWR, a copy of the track owner's CWR procedures and all revisions, appendices, updates, and referenced materials related thereto prior to their effective date. Such CWR procedures shall be issued and maintained in one CWR standards and procedures manual.

(l) As used in this section—

Adjusting/de-stressing means a procedure by which a rail's neutral temperature is re-adjusted to the desired value. It typically consists of cutting the rail and removing rail anchoring devices, which provides for the necessary expansion and contraction, and then re-assembling the track.

Annual re-training means training every calendar year.

Buckling incident means the formation of a lateral misalignment sufficient in magnitude to constitute a deviation from the Class 1 requirements specified in §213.55. These normally occur when rail temperatures are relatively high and are caused by high longitudinal compressive forces.

Buckling-prone condition means a track condition that can result in the track being laterally displaced due to high compression forces caused by critical rail temperature combined with insufficient track strength and/or train dynamics.

Continuous welded rail (CWR) means rail that has been welded together into lengths exceeding 400 feet. Rail installed as CWR remains CWR, regardless of whether a joint or plug is installed into the rail at a later time.

Corrective actions mean those actions which track owners specify in their CWR plans to address conditions of actual or potential joint failure, including, as applicable, repair, restrictions on operations, and additional on-foot inspections.

CWR joint means any joint directly connected to CWR.

Desired rail installation temperature range means the rail temperature range, within a specific geographical area, at which forces in CWR should not cause a buckling incident in extreme heat, or a pull apart during extreme cold weather.

Disturbed track means the disturbance of the roadbed or ballast section, as a result of track maintenance or any other event, which reduces the lateral or longitudinal resistance of the track, or both.

Mechanical stabilization means a type of procedure used to restore track resistance to disturbed track following certain maintenance operations. This procedure may incorporate dynamic track stabilizers or ballast consolidators, which are units of work equipment that are used as a substitute for the stabilization action provided by the passage of tonnage trains.

Pull apart or stripped joint means a condition when no bolts are mounted through a joint on the rail end, rending the joint bar ineffective due to excessive expansive or contractive forces.

Pull-apart prone condition means a condition when the actual rail temperature is below the rail neutral temperature at or near a joint where longitudinal tensile forces may affect the fastenings at the joint.

Rail anchors mean those devices which are attached to the rail and bear against the side of the crosstie to control longitudinal rail movement. Certain types of rail fasteners also act as rail anchors and control longitudinal rail movement by exerting a downward clamping force on the upper surface of the rail base.

Rail neutral temperature is the temperature at which the rail is neither in compression nor tension.

Rail temperature means the temperature of the rail, measured with a rail thermometer.

Remedial actions mean those actions which track owners are required to take as a result of requirements of this part to address a non-compliant condition.

Tight/kinky rail means CWR which exhibits minute alinement irregularities which indicate that the rail is in a considerable amount of compression.

Tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations mean railroad operations that carry passengers with the conveyance of the passengers to a particular destination not being the principal purpose.

Track lateral resistance means the resistance provided by the rail/crosstie structure against lateral displacement.

Track longitudinal resistance means the resistance provided by the rail anchors/rail fasteners and the ballast section to the rail/crosstie structure against longitudinal displacement.

Train-induced forces means the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral dynamic forces which are generated during train movement and which can contribute to the buckling potential of the rail.

Unscheduled detour operation means a short-term, unscheduled operation where a track owner has no more than 14 calendar days' notice that the operation is going to occur.

[74 FR 43002, Aug. 25, 2009, as amended at 74 FR 53889, Oct. 21, 2009; 75 FR 4705, Jan. 29, 2010; 79 FR 4258, Jan. 24, 2014]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.121   Rail joints.

(a) Each rail joint, insulated joint, and compromise joint shall be of a structurally sound design and dimensions for the rail on which it is applied.

(b) If a joint bar on Classes 3 through 5 track is cracked, broken, or because of wear allows excessive vertical movement of either rail when all bolts are tight, it shall be replaced.

(c) If a joint bar is cracked or broken between the middle two bolt holes it shall be replaced.

(d) In the case of conventional jointed track, each rail shall be bolted with at least two bolts at each joint in Classes 2 through 5 track, and with at least one bolt in Class 1 track.

(e) In the case of continuous welded rail track, each rail shall be bolted with at least two bolts at each joint.

(f) Each joint bar shall be held in position by track bolts tightened to allow the joint bar to firmly support the abutting rail ends and to allow longitudinal movement of the rail in the joint to accommodate expansion and contraction due to temperature variations. When no-slip, joint-to-rail contact exists by design, the requirements of this paragraph do not apply. Those locations when over 400 feet in length, are considered to be continuous welded rail track and shall meet all the requirements for continuous welded rail track prescribed in this part.

(g) No rail shall have a bolt hole which is torch cut or burned in Classes 2 through 5 track. For Class 2 track, this paragraph (g) is applicable September 21, 1999.

(h) No joint bar shall be reconfigured by torch cutting in Classes 3 through 5 track.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.122   Torch cut rail.

(a) Except as a temporary repair in emergency situations no rail having a torch cut end shall be used in Classes 3 through 5 track. When a rail end is torch cut in emergency situations, train speed over that rail end shall not exceed the maximum allowable for Class 2 track. For existing torch cut rail ends in Classes 3 through 5 track the following shall apply—

(1) Within one year of September 21, 1998, all torch cut rail ends in Class 5 track shall be removed;

(2) Within two years of September 21, 1998, all torch cut rail ends in Class 4 track shall be removed; and

(3) Within one year of September 21, 1998, all torch cut rail ends in Class 3 track over which regularly scheduled passenger trains operate, shall be inventoried by the track owner.

(b) Following the expiration of the time limits specified in paragraphs (a)(1), (2), and (3) of this section, any torch cut rail end not removed from Classes 4 and 5 track, or any torch cut rail end not inventoried in Class 3 track over which regularly scheduled passenger trains operate, shall be removed within 30 days of discovery. Train speed over that rail end shall not exceed the maximum allowable for Class 2 track until removed.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.123   Tie plates.

(a) In Classes 3 through 5 track where timber crossties are in use there shall be tie plates under the running rails on at least eight of any 10 consecutive ties.

(b) In Classes 3 through 5 track no metal object which causes a concentrated load by solely supporting a rail shall be allowed between the base of the rail and the bearing surface of the tie plate. This paragraph (b) is applicable September 21, 1999.)

return arrow Back to Top

§213.127   Rail fastening systems.

(a) Track shall be fastened by a system of components that effectively maintains gage within the limits prescribed in §213.53(b). Each component of each such system shall be evaluated to determine whether gage is effectively being maintained.

(b) If rail anchors are applied to concrete crossties, the combination of the crossties, fasteners, and rail anchors must provide effective longitudinal restraint.

(c) Where fastener placement impedes insulated joints from performing as intended, the fastener may be modified or removed, provided that the crosstie supports the rail.

[76 FR 18086, Apr. 1, 2011]

return arrow Back to Top

§213.133   Turnouts and track crossings generally.

(a) In turnouts and track crossings, the fastenings shall be intact and maintained so as to keep the components securely in place. Also, each switch, frog, and guard rail shall be kept free of obstructions that may interfere with the passage of wheels.

(b) Classes 3 through 5 track shall be equipped with rail anchoring through and on each side of track crossings and turnouts, to restrain rail movement affecting the position of switch points and frogs. For Class 3 track, this paragraph (b) is applicable September 21, 1999.)

(c) Each flangeway at turnouts and track crossings shall be at least 112 inches wide.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.135   Switches.

(a) Each stock rail must be securely seated in switch plates, but care shall be used to avoid canting the rail by overtightening the rail braces.

(b) Each switch point shall fit its stock rail properly, with the switch stand in either of its closed positions to allow wheels to pass the switch point. Lateral and vertical movement of a stock rail in the switch plates or of a switch plate on a tie shall not adversely affect the fit of the switch point to the stock rail. Broken or cracked switch point rails will be subject to the requirements of §213.113, except that where remedial actions C, D, or E require the use of joint bars, and joint bars cannot be placed due to the physical configuration of the switch, remedial action B will govern, taking into account any added safety provided by the presence of reinforcing bars on the switch points.

(c) Each switch shall be maintained so that the outer edge of the wheel tread cannot contact the gage side of the stock rail.

(d) The heel of each switch rail shall be secure and the bolts in each heel shall be kept tight.

(e) Each switch stand and connecting rod shall be securely fastened and operable without excessive lost motion.

(f) Each throw lever shall be maintained so that it cannot be operated with the lock or keeper in place.

(g) Each switch position indicator shall be clearly visible at all times.

(h) Unusually chipped or worn switch points shall be repaired or replaced. Metal flow shall be removed to insure proper closure.

(i) Tongue & Plain Mate switches, which by design exceed Class 1 and excepted track maximum gage limits, are permitted in Class 1 and excepted track.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.137   Frogs.

(a) The flangeway depth measured from a plane across the wheel-bearing area of a frog on Class 1 track shall not be less than 138 inches, or less than 112 inches on Classes 2 through 5 track.

(b) If a frog point is chipped, broken, or worn more than five-eighths inch down and 6 inches back, operating speed over the frog shall not be more than 10 m.p.h.

(c) If the tread portion of a frog casting is worn down more than three-eighths inch below the original contour, operating speed over that frog shall not be more than 10 m.p.h.

(d) Where frogs are designed as flange-bearing, flangeway depth may be less than that shown for Class 1 if operated at Class 1 speeds.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.139   Spring rail frogs.

(a) The outer edge of a wheel tread shall not contact the gage side of a spring wing rail.

(b) The toe of each wing rail shall be solidly tamped and fully and tightly bolted.

(c) Each frog with a bolt hole defect or head-web separation shall be replaced.

(d) Each spring shall have compression sufficient to hold the wing rail against the point rail.

(e) The clearance between the holddown housing and the horn shall not be more than one-fourth of an inch.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.141   Self-guarded frogs.

(a) The raised guard on a self-guarded frog shall not be worn more than three-eighths of an inch.

(b) If repairs are made to a self-guarded frog without removing it from service, the guarding face shall be restored before rebuilding the point.

return arrow Back to Top

§213.143   Frog guard rails and guard faces; gage.

The guard check and guard face gages in frogs shall be within the limits prescribed in the following table—

Class of trackGuard check gage
The distance between the gage line of a frog to the guard line1 of its guard rail or guarding face, measured across the track at right angles to the gage line2, may not be less than—
Guard face gage
The distance between guard lines1, measured across the track at right angles to the gage line2, may not be more than—
Class 1 track4618 4 514
Class 2 track4614 4 518
Class 3 and 4 track4 638 4518
Class 5 track4612 4 5

1A line along that side of the flangeway which is nearer to the center of the track and at the same elevation as the gage line.

2A line 58 inch below the top of the center line of the head of the running rail, or corresponding location of the tread portion of the track structure.

eCFR graphic er22jn98.006.gif

View or download PDF

eCFR graphic er22jn98.007.gif

View or download PDF

return arrow Back to Top

Need assistance?