American Association of Railroads

AAR applauds FRA Air Brake Rule

In a newly published final rule, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has continued its efforts to improve and modernize regulations to keep pace with technological progress across the 140,000-mile U.S. freight rail network. The final rule updates inspection requirements by expanding the window of time freight cars may be off-air before performing a new brake test, which is possible thanks to decades of rail brake safety advancements.

Ian Jefferies headshot

Ian Jefferies

“With this final rule, the FRA has modernized outdated, legacy regulations to keep pace with the industry’s ongoing tech transformation while maintaining uncompromising levels of safety,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “AAR applauds the FRA for this rulemaking process and its commitment to our shared safety goals.”

Advances in equipment and operating practices related to rail air brake systems have paved the way for a new approach to testing and inspection. In the place of time-intensive, redundant inspections, the new rule will provide environmental benefits and enhanced efficiency without compromising safety for both Class I and smaller railroads.

Additionally, the FRA’s regulatory approach will allow for better harmonization across all North American rail operations by aligning practices more closely to those in Canada. Locomotive idling will be reduced by increasing the number of times railcars can be off air, allowing railroads to further reduce emissions and fuel use, driving environmental benefits across the rail network. By reducing the need for locomotive idling during unnecessary inspections, there is potential to reduce emissions and drive environmental benefits across the rail network. FRA’s final rule also codifies certain existing railroad industry waivers that have proven to provide for the safety of railroad operations.