Railroad Administration publishes petition concerning CNG locomotives

January 22, 2019. On December 20, 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration published a notice concerning a petition to waive requirements relating to locomotives that are being converted to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). The notice requests public comment by February 2, 2019. On December 4, 2018, the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad (IHBR) and RJ Corman Railpower petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for approval of modifications and substantive changes to an FRA-approved locomotive crashworthiness design standard as required under 49 CFR 229.207(c). Specifically, Petitioners seek FRA’s approval and concurrence with substantive changes to an FRA-approved locomotive crashworthiness design standard for the IHBR SW 1500 fleet.

   The SW fleet was originally manufactured from 1966 to 1968 and is undergoing modification to operate on both diesel and compressed natural gas in a “dual-fuel” configuration. Once modified and approved, these locomotives would operate in switching service at IHBR. Because the locomotive modifications include a lengthening of the frame and the replacement of the operator cab, these changes require FRA’s approval and concurrence with 49 CFR 229.207(c) to be considered crashworthy. Interested parties are invited to participate in these proceedings by submitting written views, data, or comments.

   FRA does not anticipate scheduling a public hearing in connection with these proceedings since the facts do not appear to warrant a hearing. If any interested parties desire an opportunity for oral comment and a public hearing, they should notify FRA, in writing, before the end of the comment period and specify the basis for their request.