FRA Rule Amendments on Glazing
- On November 17, 2022
In today’s Federal Register, the FRA published a final rule, effective immediately, amending its glazing requirements for exterior windows.
The amendments codify longstanding waivers, add a new testing option to improve consistency of glazing testing, and revise outdated section headings. The changes update and clarify existing requirements to maintain and, in some cases, enhance safety, and reduce unnecessary costs.
The amendments codify many long-standing waivers that have provided certain older railroad equipment relief from FRA’s glazing requirements. In particular, this final rule excludes from compliance with part 223 all locomotives, cabooses, and passenger cars built or rebuilt prior to July 1, 1980, that are operated at speeds not exceeding 30 mph, and are used only where the risk of propelled or fouling objects striking the equipment is low. This reduces the regulatory burden on the railroad industry by eliminating the need to continue to use the waiver process for relief, while providing the railroad industry with regulatory certainty as to the applicability of part 223 to certain older equipment.
This rule also revises appendix A to allow the use of a steel ball as an alternative to a cinder block for conducting the large object impact test required by appendix A. Appendix A contains the performance criteria and the testing methodology for required glazing materials. Specifically, appendix A requires glazing materials to be subjected to two tests: ballistic impact and large object impact. Historically, the large object impact test in appendix A has required the use of a 24-lb cinder block of specific dimensions. As noted in the NPRM, in the early 2000s, FRA became aware that cinder blocks of the weight and dimensions appendix A requires were no longer being manufactured and accordingly were becoming harder for the glazing manufacturing and railroad industries to find. Because the steel ball test is at least equivalent to the existing cinder block test appendix A has historically required, safety will be maintained, and in some respects, enhanced, by the standardization the steel ball test provides.
In the NPRM FRA proposed to incorporate by reference two American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications to ensure proper cement construction and integrity of the blocks. Upon further review and consideration, FRA recognizes that other concrete compositions can be used to construct structurally sound cinder blocks. Accordingly, FRA is not adopting the NPRM’s proposal to incorporate by reference the two ASTM standards, which would have required cinder blocks to meet those standards to be used for testing under appendix A. Instead, FRA is revising appendix A to make clear that any structurally sound cinder blocks may be used to meet the testing requirements of appendix A and ASTM specifications are merely examples of compositions known to be structurally sound.
Finally, FRA is revising several section headings in part 223 to replace terms that have become outdated. As noted in the NPRM, since 1979, when FRA first published part 223, use of the terms ‘‘new’’ and ‘‘existing’’ in various section headings has become confusing. Accordingly, for clarity, FRA is amending the section headings to refer to the relevant compliance dates for each section.
A link to the rule is provided. FRA Glazing Rule
Please contact Michael Barron Jr. MBarron@fletcher-sippel.com if you have questions.