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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of May 28, 2020

Title 49Subtitle BChapter IIPart 213 → Subpart F


Title 49: Transportation
PART 213—TRACK SAFETY STANDARDS


Subpart F—Inspection


Contents
§213.231   Scope.
§213.233   Track inspections.
§213.234   Automated inspection of track constructed with concrete crossties.
§213.235   Inspection of switches, track crossings, and lift rail assemblies or other transition devices on moveable bridges.
§213.237   Inspection of rail.
§213.238   Qualified operator.
§213.239   Special inspections.
§213.241   Inspection records.

§213.231   Scope.

This subpart prescribes requirements for the frequency and manner of inspecting track to detect deviations from the standards prescribed in this part.

§213.233   Track inspections.

(a) All track shall be inspected in accordance with the schedule prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section by a person designated under §213.7.

(b) Each inspection shall be made on foot or by riding over the track in a vehicle at a speed that allows the person making the inspection to visually inspect the track structure for compliance with this part. However, mechanical, electrical, and other track inspection devices may be used to supplement visual inspection. If a vehicle is used for visual inspection, the speed of the vehicle may not be more than 5 miles per hour when passing over track crossings and turnouts, otherwise, the inspection vehicle speed shall be at the sole discretion of the inspector, based on track conditions and inspection requirements. When riding over the track in a vehicle, the inspection will be subject to the following conditions—

(1) One inspector in a vehicle may inspect up to two tracks at one time provided that the inspector's visibility remains unobstructed by any cause and that the second track is not centered more than 30 feet from the track upon which the inspector is riding;

(2) Two inspectors in one vehicle may inspect up to four tracks at a time provided that the inspectors' visibility remains unobstructed by any cause and that each track being inspected is centered within 39 feet from the track upon which the inspectors are riding;

(3) Each main track is actually traversed by the vehicle or inspected on foot at least once every two weeks, and each siding is actually traversed by the vehicle or inspected on foot at least once every month. On high density commuter railroad lines where track time does not permit an on track vehicle inspection, and where track centers are 15 foot or less, the requirements of this paragraph (b)(3) will not apply; and

(4) Track inspection records shall indicate which track(s) are traversed by the vehicle or inspected on foot as outlined in paragraph (b)(3) of this section.

(c) Each track inspection shall be made in accordance with the following schedule—

Class of trackType of trackRequired frequency
Excepted track and Class 1, 2, and 3 trackMain track and sidingsWeekly with at least 3 calendar days interval between inspections, or before use, if the track is used less than once a week, or twice weekly with at least 1 calendar day interval between inspections, if the track carries passenger trains or more than 10 million gross tons of traffic during the preceding calendar year.
Excepted track and Class 1, 2, and 3 trackOther than main track and sidingsMonthly with at least 20 calendar days interval between inspections.
Class 4 and 5 trackTwice weekly with at least 1 calendar day interval between inspections.

(d) If the person making the inspection finds a deviation from the requirements of this part, the inspector shall immediately initiate remedial action.

Note to §213.233: Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no part of this section will in any way be construed to limit the inspector's discretion as it involves inspection speed and sight distance.

§213.234   Automated inspection of track constructed with concrete crossties.

(a) General. Except for track described in paragraph (c) of this section, the provisions in this section are applicable on and after July 1, 2012. In addition to the track inspection required under §213.233, for Class 3 main track constructed with concrete crossties over which regularly scheduled passenger service trains operate, and for Class 4 and 5 main track constructed with concrete crossties, automated inspection technology shall be used as indicated in paragraph (b) of this section, as a supplement to visual inspection, by Class I railroads (including Amtrak), Class II railroads, other intercity passenger railroads, and commuter railroads or small governmental jurisdictions that serve populations greater than 50,000. Automated inspection shall identify and report exceptions to conditions described in §213.109(d)(4).

(b) Frequency of automated inspections. Automated inspections shall be conducted at the following frequencies:

(1) If annual tonnage on Class 4 and 5 main track and Class 3 main track with regularly scheduled passenger service, exceeds 40 million gross tons (mgt) annually, at least twice each calendar year, with no less than 160 days between inspections.

(2) If annual tonnage on Class 4 and 5 main track and Class 3 main track with regularly scheduled passenger service is equal to or less than 40 mgt annually, at least once each calendar year.

(3) On Class 3, 4, and 5 main track with exclusively passenger service, either an automated inspection or walking inspection must be conducted once per calendar year.

(4) Track not inspected in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this section because of train operation interruption shall be reinspected within 45 days of the resumption of train operations by a walking or automated inspection. If this inspection is conducted as a walking inspection, the next inspection shall be an automated inspection as prescribed in this paragraph.

(c) Nonapplication. Sections of tangent track 600 feet or less constructed of concrete crossties, including, but not limited to, isolated track segments, experimental or test track segments, highway-rail crossings, and wayside detectors, are excluded from the requirements of this section.

(d) Performance standard for automated inspection measurement system. The automated inspection measurement system must be capable of indicating and processing rail seat deterioration requirements that specify the following:

(1) An accuracy, to within 18 of an inch;

(2) A distance-based sampling interval, which shall not exceed five feet; and

(3) Calibration procedures and parameters assigned to the system, which assure that indicated and recorded values accurately represent rail seat deterioration.

(e) Exception reports to be produced by system; duty to field-verify exceptions. The automated inspection measurement system shall produce an exception report containing a systematic listing of all exceptions to §213.109(d)(4), identified so that an appropriate person(s) designated as fully qualified under §213.7 can field-verify each exception.

(1) Exception reports must be provided to or be made available to all persons designated as fully qualified under §213.7 and whose territories are subject to the requirements of §213.234.

(2) Each exception must be located and field-verified no later than 48 hours after the automated inspection.

(3) All field-verified exceptions are subject to all the requirements of this part.

(4) Exception reports must note areas identified between 38 of an inch and 12 of an inch as an “alert.”

(f) Recordkeeping requirements. The track owner shall maintain and make available to FRA a record of the inspection data and the exception record for the track inspected in accordance with this paragraph for a minimum of two years. The exception reports must include the following:

(1) Date and location of limits of the inspection;

(2) Type and location of each exception;

(3) Results of field verification; and

(4) Remedial action if required.

(g) Procedures for integrity of data. The track owner shall institute the necessary procedures for maintaining the integrity of the data collected by the measurement system. At a minimum, the track owner shall do the following:

(1) Maintain and make available to FRA documented calibration procedures of the measurement system that, at a minimum, specify an instrument verification procedure that ensures correlation between measurements made on the ground and those recorded by the instrumentation; and

(2) Maintain each instrument used for determining compliance with this section such that it accurately provides an indication of the depth of rail seat deterioration in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section.

(h) Training. The track owner shall provide annual training in handling rail seat deterioration exceptions to all persons designated as fully qualified under §213.7 and whose territories are subject to the requirements of §213.234. At a minimum, the training shall address the following:

(1) Interpretation and handling of the exception reports generated by the automated inspection measurement system;

(2) Locating and verifying exceptions in the field and required remedial action; and

(3) Recordkeeping requirements.

[76 FR 18086, Apr. 1, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 55825, Sept. 9, 2011]

§213.235   Inspection of switches, track crossings, and lift rail assemblies or other transition devices on moveable bridges.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, each switch, turnout, track crossing, and moveable bridge lift rail assembly or other transition device shall be inspected on foot at least monthly.

(b) Each switch in Classes 3 through 5 track that is held in position only by the operating mechanism and one connecting rod shall be operated to all of its positions during one inspection in every 3 month period.

(c) In the case of track that is used less than once a month, each switch, turnout, track crossing, and moveable bridge lift rail assembly or other transition device shall be inspected on foot before it is used.

§213.237   Inspection of rail.

(a) In addition to the inspections required by §213.233, each track owner shall conduct internal rail inspections sufficient to maintain service failure rates per rail inspection segment in accordance with this paragraph (a) for a 12-month period, as determined by the track owner and calculated within 45 days of the end of the period. These rates shall not include service failures that occur in rail that has been replaced through rail relay since the time of the service failure. Rail used to repair a service failure defect is not considered relayed rail. The service failure rates shall not exceed—

(1) 0.1 service failure per year per mile of track for all Class 4 and 5 track;

(2) 0.09 service failure per year per mile of track for all Class 3, 4, and 5 track that carries regularly-scheduled passenger trains or is a hazardous materials route; and

(3) 0.08 service failure per year per mile of track for all Class 3, 4, and 5 track that carries regularly-scheduled passenger trains and is a hazardous materials route.

(b) Each rail inspection segment shall be designated by the track owner no later than March 25, 2014 for track that is Class 4 or 5 track, or Class 3 track that carries regularly-scheduled passenger trains or is a hazardous materials route and is used to determine the milepost limits for the individual rail inspection frequency.

(1) To change the designation of a rail inspection segment or to establish a new segment pursuant to this section, a track owner must submit a detailed request to the FRA Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer (Associate Administrator). Within 30 days of receipt of the submission, FRA will review the request. FRA will approve, disapprove, or conditionally approve the submitted request, and will provide written notice of its determination.

(2) The track owner's existing designation shall remain in effect until the track owner's new designation is approved or conditionally approved by FRA.

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

(c) Internal rail inspections on Class 4 and 5 track, or Class 3 track with regularly-scheduled passenger trains or that is a hazardous materials route, shall not exceed a time interval of 370 days between inspections or a tonnage interval of 30 million gross tons (mgt) between inspections, whichever is shorter. Internal rail inspections on Class 3 track that is without regularly-scheduled passenger trains and not a hazardous materials route must be inspected at least once each calendar year, with no more than 18 months between inspections, or at least once every 30 mgt, whichever interval is longer, but in no case may inspections be more than 5 years apart.

(1) Any rail used as a replacement plug rail in track that is required to be tested in accordance with this section must have been tested for internal rail flaws.

(2) The track owner must verify that any plug rail installed after March 25, 2014 has not accumulated more than a total of 30 mgt in previous and new locations since its last internal rail flaw test, before the next test on the rail required by this section is performed.

(3) If plug rail not in compliance with this paragraph (c) is in use after March 25, 2014, trains over that rail must not exceed Class 2 speeds until the rail is tested in accordance with this section.

(d) If the service failure rate target identified in paragraph (a) of this section is not achieved, the track owner must inform FRA of this fact within 45 days of the end of the defined 12-month period in which the performance target is exceeded. In addition, the track owner may provide to FRA an explanation as to why the performance target was not achieved and provide a remedial action plan.

(1) If the performance target rate is not met for two consecutive years, then for the area where the greatest number of service failures is occurring, either:

(i) The inspection tonnage interval between tests must be reduced to 10 mgt; or

(ii) The class of track must be reduced to Class 2 until the target service failure rate is achieved.

(2) In cases where a single service failure would cause the rate to exceed the applicable service failure rate as designated in paragraph (a) of this section, the service failure rate will be considered to comply with paragraph (a) of this section unless a second such failure occurs within a designated 12-month period. For the purposes of this paragraph (d)(2), a period begins no earlier than January 24, 2014.

(e) Each defective rail shall be marked with a highly visible marking on both sides of the web and base except that, where a side or sides of the web and base are inaccessible because of permanent features, the highly visible marking may be placed on or next to the head of the rail.

(f) Inspection equipment shall be capable of detecting defects between joint bars, in the area enclosed by joint bars.

(g) If the person assigned to operate the rail defect detection equipment (i.e., the qualified operator) determines that a valid search for internal defects could not be made over a particular length of track, that particular length of track may not be considered as internally inspected under paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section.

(h) If a valid search for internal defects could not be conducted, the track owner shall, before expiration of the time or tonnage limits in paragraph (a) or (c) of this section—

(1) Conduct a valid search for internal defects;

(2) Reduce operating speed to a maximum of 25 m.p.h. until such time as a valid search can be made; or

(3) Replace the rail that had not been inspected.

(i) The person assigned to operate the rail defect detection equipment must be a qualified operator as defined in §213.238 and have demonstrated proficiency in the rail flaw detection process for each type of equipment the operator is assigned.

(j) As used in this section—

(1) Hazardous materials route means track over which a minimum of 10,000 car loads or intermodal portable tank car loads of hazardous materials as defined in 49 CFR 171.8 travel over a period of one calendar year; or track over which a minimum of 4,000 car loads or intermodal portable tank car loads of the hazardous materials specified in 49 CFR 172.820 travel, in a period of one calendar year.

(2) Plug rail means a length of rail that has been removed from one track location and stored for future use as a replacement rail at another location.

(3) Service failure means a broken rail occurrence, the cause of which is determined to be a compound fissure, transverse fissure, detail fracture, or vertical split head.

(4) Valid search means a continuous inspection for internal rail defects where the equipment performs as intended and equipment responses are interpreted by a qualified operator as defined in §213.238.

[79 FR 4258, Jan. 24, 2014]

§213.238   Qualified operator.

(a) Each provider of rail flaw detection shall have a documented training program in place and shall identify the types of rail flaw detection equipment for which each equipment operator it employs has received training and is qualified. A provider of rail flaw detection may be the track owner. A track owner shall not utilize a provider of rail flaw detection that fails to comply with the requirements of this paragraph.

(b) A qualified operator shall be trained and have written authorization from his or her employer to:

(1) Conduct a valid search for internal rail defects utilizing the specific type(s) of equipment for which he or she is authorized and qualified to operate;

(2) Determine that such equipment is performing as intended;

(3) Interpret equipment responses and institute appropriate action in accordance with the employer's procedures and instructions; and

(4) Determine that each valid search for an internal rail defect is continuous throughout the area inspected and has not been compromised due to environmental contamination, rail conditions, or equipment malfunction.

(c) To be qualified, the operator must have received training in accordance with the documented training program and a minimum of 160 hours of rail flaw detection experience under direct supervision of a qualified operator or rail flaw detection equipment manufacturer's representative, or some combination of both. The operator must demonstrate proficiency in the rail defect detection process, including the equipment to be utilized, prior to initial qualification and authorization by the employer for each type of equipment.

(d) Each employer shall reevaluate the qualifications of, and administer any necessary recurrent training for, the operator as determined by and in accordance with the employer's documented program. The reevaluation process shall require that the employee successfully complete a recorded examination and demonstrate proficiency to the employer on the specific equipment type(s) to be operated. Proficiency may be determined by a periodic review of test data submitted by the operator.

(e) Each employer of a qualified operator shall maintain written or electronic records of each qualification in effect. Each record shall include the name of the employee, the equipment to which the qualification applies, date of qualification, and date of the most recent reevaluation, if any.

(f) Any employee who has demonstrated proficiency in the operation of rail flaw detection equipment prior to January 24, 2014, is deemed a qualified operator, regardless of the previous training program under which the employee was qualified. Such an operator shall be subject to paragraph (d) of this section.

(g) Records concerning the qualification of operators, including copies of equipment-specific training programs and materials, recorded examinations, demonstrated proficiency records, and authorization records, shall be kept at a location designated by the employer and available for inspection and copying by FRA during regular business hours.

[79 FR 4259, Jan. 24, 2014]

§213.239   Special inspections.

In the event of fire, flood, severe storm, or other occurrence which might have damaged track structure, a special inspection shall be made of the track involved as soon as possible after the occurrence and, if possible, before the operation of any train over that track.

§213.241   Inspection records.

(a) Each owner of track to which this part applies shall keep a record of each inspection required to be performed on that track under this subpart.

(b) Each record of an inspection under §§213.4, 213.119, 213.233, and 213.235 shall be prepared on the day the inspection is made and signed by the person making the inspection. Records shall specify the track inspected, date of inspection, location and nature of any deviation from the requirements of this part, and the remedial action taken by the person making the inspection. The owner shall designate the location(s) where each original record shall be maintained for at least one year after the inspection covered by the record. The owner shall also designate one location, within 100 miles of each state in which they conduct operations, where copies of records which apply to those operations are either maintained or can be viewed following 10 days notice by the Federal Railroad Administration.

(c) Records of internal rail inspections required by §213.237 shall specify the—

(1) Date of inspection;

(2) Track inspected, including beginning and end points;

(3) Location and type of defects found under §213.113;

(4) Size of defects found under §213.113, if not removed prior to the next train movement;

(5) Initial remedial action taken and the date thereof; and

(6) Location of any track not tested pursuant to §213.237(g).

(d) The track owner shall retain a rail inspection record under paragraph (c) of this section for at least two years after the inspection and for one year after initial remedial action is taken.

(e) The track owner shall maintain records sufficient to demonstrate the means by which it computes the service failure rate on all track segments subject to the requirements of §213.237(a) for the purpose of determining compliance with the applicable service failure rate target.

(f) Each track owner required to keep inspection records under this section shall make those records available for inspection and copying by FRA upon request.

(g) For purposes of complying with the requirements of this section, a track owner may maintain and transfer records through electronic transmission, storage, and retrieval provided that—

(1) The electronic system is designed so that the integrity of each record is maintained through appropriate levels of security such as recognition of an electronic signature, or another means, which uniquely identifies the initiating person as the author of that record. No two persons shall have the same electronic identity;

(2) The electronic storage of each record shall be initiated by the person making the inspection within 24 hours following the completion of that inspection;

(3) The electronic system shall ensure that each record cannot be modified in any way, or replaced, once the record is transmitted and stored;

(4) Any amendment to a record shall be electronically stored apart from the record which it amends. Each amendment to a record shall be uniquely identified as to the person making the amendment;

(5) The electronic system shall provide for the maintenance of inspection records as originally submitted without corruption or loss of data;

(6) Paper copies of electronic records and amendments to those records that may be necessary to document compliance with this part shall be made available for inspection and copying by FRA at the locations specified in paragraph (b) of this section; and

(7) Track inspection records shall be kept available to persons who performed the inspections and to persons performing subsequent inspections.

[63 FR 34029, June 22, 1998, as amended at 70 FR 66298, Nov. 2, 2005; 79 FR 4259, Jan. 24, 2014]

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