49 CFR Appendix B to Part 242, Procedures for Submission and Approval of Conductor Certification Programs
This appendix establishes procedures for the submission and approval of a railroad's program concerning the training, testing, and evaluating of persons seeking certification or recertification as a conductor in accordance with the requirements of this part. It also contains guidance on how FRA will exercise its review and approval responsibilities.
As provided for in § 242.101, each railroad must have a program for determining the certification of each person it permits or requires to perform as a conductor or as a passenger conductor. Each railroad must submit its individual program to FRA for approval as provided for in § 242.103. Each program must be accompanied by a request for approval organized in accordance with this appendix. Requests for approval must contain appropriate references to the relevant portion of the program being discussed. Requests should be submitted in writing on standard sized paper (8 1/2 × 11) and can be in letter or narrative format. The railroad's submission shall be sent to the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer, FRA. The mailing address for FRA is 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Simultaneous with its filing with the FRA, each railroad must serve a copy of its submission on the president of each labor organization that represents the railroad's employees subject to this part.
Each railroad is authorized to file by electronic means any program submissions required under this part. Prior to any person submitting a railroad's first program submission electronically, the person shall provide the Associate Administrator with the following information in writing:
(1) The name of the railroad;
(2) The names of two individuals, including job titles, who will be the railroad's points of contact and will be the only individuals allowed access to FRA's secure document submission site;
(3) The mailing addresses for the railroad's points of contact;
(4) The railroad's system or main headquarters address located in the United States;
(5) The email addresses for the railroad's points of contact; and
(6) The daytime telephone numbers for the railroad's points of contact.
A request for electronic submission or FRA review of written materials shall be addressed to the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/Chief Safety Officer, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Upon receipt of a request for electronic submission that contains the information listed above, FRA will then contact the requestor with instructions for electronically submitting its program.
A railroad that electronically submits an initial program or new portions or revisions to an approved program required by this part shall be considered to have provided its consent to receive approval or disapproval notices from FRA by email. FRA may electronically store any materials required by this part regardless of whether the railroad that submits the materials does so by delivering the written materials to the Associate Administrator and opts not to submit the materials electronically. A railroad that opts not to submit the materials required by this part electronically, but provides one or more email addresses in its submission, shall be considered to have provided its consent to receive approval or disapproval notices from FRA by email or mail.
Each request should be organized to present the required information in the following standardized manner. Each section must begin by giving the name, title, telephone number, and mailing address of the person to be contacted concerning the matters addressed by that section. If a person is identified in a prior section, it is sufficient to merely repeat the person's name in a subsequent section.
The first section of the request must contain the name of the railroad, the person to be contacted concerning the request (including the person's name, title, telephone number, and mailing address) and a statement electing either to accept responsibility for educating previously untrained persons to be certified conductors or recertify only conductors previously certified by other railroads. See § 242.103(b).
If a railroad elects not to provide initial conductor training, the railroad is obligated to state so in its submission. A railroad that makes this election will be limited to recertifying persons initially certified by another railroad. A railroad that makes this election can rescind it by obtaining FRA approval of a modification of its program. See § 242.103(f).
If a railroad elects to accept responsibility for training persons not previously trained to be conductors, the railroad is obligated to submit information on how such persons will be trained but has no duty to actually conduct such training. A railroad that elects to accept the responsibility for the training of such persons may authorize another railroad or a non-railroad entity to perform the actual training effort. The electing railroad remains responsible for assuring that such other training providers adhere to the training program the railroad submits. This section must also state which types of service the railroad will employ. See § 242.107.
The second section of the request must contain information concerning the railroad's program for training previously certified conductors. As provided for in § 242.119(l) each railroad must have a program for the ongoing education of its conductors to assure that they maintain the necessary knowledge concerning operating rules and practices, familiarity with physical characteristics, and relevant Federal safety rules.
Section 242.119(l) provides a railroad latitude to select the specific subject matter to be covered, duration of the training, method of presenting the information, and the frequency with which the training will be provided. The railroad must describe in this section how it will use that latitude to assure that its conductors remain knowledgeable concerning the safe discharge of their responsibilities so as to comply with the performance standard set forth in § 242.119(l). This section must contain sufficient detail to permit effective evaluation of the railroad's training program in terms of the subject matter covered, the frequency and duration of the training sessions, the training environment employed (for example, use of classroom, use of computer based training, use of film or slide presentations, and use of on-job-training) and which aspects of the program are voluntary or mandatory.
Time and circumstances have the capacity to diminish both abstract knowledge and the proper application of that knowledge to discrete events. Time and circumstances also have the capacity to alter the value of previously obtained knowledge and the application of that knowledge. In formulating how it will use the discretion being afforded, each railroad must design its program to address both loss of retention of knowledge and changed circumstances, and this section of the submission to FRA must address these matters.
For example, conductors need to have their fundamental knowledge of operating rules and procedures refreshed periodically. Each railroad needs to advise FRA how that need is satisfied in terms of the interval between attendance at such training, the nature of the training being provided, and methods for conducting the training. A matter of particular concern to FRA is how each railroad acts to ensure that conductors remain knowledgeable about the territory over which a conductor is authorized to perform but from which the conductor has been absent. The railroad must have a plan for the familiarization training that addresses the question of how long a person can be absent before needing more education and, once that threshold is reached, how the person will acquire the needed education. Similarly, the program must address how the railroad responds to changes such as the introduction of new technology, new operating rule books, or significant changes in operations including alteration in the territory conductors are authorized to work over.
In addition to stating how long a conductor must be absent from a territory before their qualification on the physical characteristics of the territory expires, railroads must also state in their programs the number of times a person must pass over a territory per year to be considered to have “regularly traversed” a territory for purposes of § 242.301(c). Since territories differ in their complexity, railroads will be given discretion to determine how many times a conductor must pass over a territory to be considered to have “regularly traversed” a territory.
The third section of the request must contain information concerning the railroad's program for testing and evaluating previously certified conductors. As provided for in § 242.121, each railroad must have a program for the ongoing testing and evaluating of its conductors to assure that they have the necessary knowledge and skills concerning operating rules and practices, familiarity with physical characteristics of the territory, and relevant Federal safety rules. Similarly, each railroad must have a program for ongoing testing and evaluating to assure that its conductors have the necessary vision and hearing acuity as provided for in § 242.117.
Section 242.121 requires that a railroad rely on written procedures for determining that each person can demonstrate his or her knowledge of the railroad's rules and practices and skill at applying those rules and practices for the safe performance as a conductor. Section 242.121 directs that, when seeking a demonstration of the person's knowledge, a railroad must employ a written test that contains objective questions and answers and covers the following subject matters: (i) Safety and operating rules; (ii) timetable instructions; (iii) physical characteristics of the territory; and (iv) compliance with all applicable Federal regulations. The test must accurately measure the person's knowledge of all of these areas.
Section 242.121 provides a railroad latitude in selecting the design of its own testing policies (including the number of questions each test will contain, how each required subject matter will be covered, weighting (if any) to be given to particular subject matter responses, selection of passing scores, and the manner of presenting the test information). The railroad must describe in this section how it will use that latitude to assure that its conductors will demonstrate their knowledge concerning the safe discharge of their responsibilities so as to comply with the performance standard set forth in § 242.121.
Section 242.117 provides a railroad latitude to rely on the professional medical opinion of the railroad's medical examiner concerning the ability of a person with substandard acuity to safely perform as a conductor. The railroad must describe in this section how it will assure that its medical examiner has sufficient information concerning the railroad's operations to effectively form appropriate conclusions about the ability of a particular individual to safely perform as a conductor.
Unless a railroad has made an election not to accept responsibility for conducting the initial training of persons to be conductors, the fourth section of the request must contain information concerning the railroad's program for educating, testing, and evaluating persons not previously trained as conductors. As provided for in § 242.119(d), a railroad that is issuing an initial certification to a person to be a conductor must have a program for the training, testing, and evaluating of its conductors to assure that they acquire the necessary knowledge and skills concerning operating rules and practices, familiarity with physical characteristics of the territory, and relevant Federal safety rules.
Section 242.119 establishes a performance standard and gives a railroad latitude in selecting how it will meet that standard. A railroad must describe in this section how it will use that latitude to assure that its conductors will acquire sufficient knowledge and skill and demonstrate their knowledge and skills concerning the safe discharge of their responsibilities. This section must contain the same level of detail concerning initial training programs as that described for each of the components of the overall program contained in sections 2 through 4 of this Appendix. A railroad that plans to accept responsibility for the initial training of conductors may authorize another railroad or a non-railroad entity to perform the actual training effort. The authorizing railroad may submit a training program developed by that authorized trainer but the authorizing railroad remains responsible for assuring that such other training providers adhere to the training program submitted. Railroads that elect to rely on other entities, to conduct training away from the railroad's own territory, must indicate how the student will be provided with the required familiarization with the physical characteristics for its territory.
The fifth section of the request must contain information concerning the railroad's program for monitoring the operation of its certified conductors. As provided for in § 242.123, each railroad must have a program for the ongoing monitoring of its conductors to assure that they perform in conformity with the railroad's operating rules and practices and relevant Federal safety rules.
The final section of the request must contain a summary of how the railroad's program and procedures will implement the various specific aspects of the regulatory provisions that relate to routine administration of its certification program for conductors. At a minimum this section needs to address the procedural aspects of the rule's provisions identified in the following paragraph.
Section 242.109 provides that each railroad must have procedures for review and comment on adverse prior safety conduct, but allows the railroad to devise its own system within generalized parameters. Sections 242.111, 242.115 and 242.403 require a railroad to have procedures for evaluating data concerning prior safety conduct as a motor vehicle operator and as railroad workers, yet leave selection of many details to the railroad. Sections 242.109, 242.201, and 242.401 place a duty on the railroad to make a series of determinations but allow the railroad to select what procedures it will employ to assure that all of the necessary determinations have been made in a timely fashion; who will be authorized to conclude that person will or will be not certified; and how it will communicate adverse decisions. Documentation of the factual basis the railroad relied on in making determinations under §§ 242.109, 242.117, 242.119 and 242.121 is required, but these sections permit the railroad to select the procedures it will employ to accomplish compliance with these provisions. Sections 242.125 and 242.127 permit reliance on certification/qualification determinations made by other entities and permit a railroad latitude in selecting the procedures it will employ to assure compliance with these provisions. Similarly, § 242.301 permits the use of railroad selected procedures to meet the requirements for certification of conductors performing service in joint operations territory. Sections 242.211 and 242.407 allow a railroad a certain degree of discretion in complying with the requirements for replacing lost certificates or the conduct of certification revocation proceedings.
This section of the request should outline in summary fashion the manner in which the railroad will implement its program so as to comply with the specific aspects of each of the rule's provisions described in the preceding paragraph.
The submissions made in conformity with this appendix will be deemed approved within 30 days after the required filing date or the actual filing date whichever is later. No formal approval document will be issued by FRA. FRA has taken the responsibility for notifying a railroad when it detects problems with the railroad's program. FRA retains the right to disapprove a program that has obtained approval due to the passage of time as provided for in section § 242.103.
Rather than establish rigid requirements for each element of the program, FRA has given railroads discretion to select the design of their individual programs within a specified context for each element. The rule, however, provides a good guide to the considerations that should be addressed in designing a program that will meet the performance standards of this rule.
In reviewing program submissions, FRA will focus on the degree to which a particular program deviates from the norms identified in its rule. To the degree that a particular program submission materially deviates from the norms set out in its rule, FRA's review and approval process will be focused on determining the validity of the reasoning relied on by a railroad for selecting its alternative approach and the degree to which the alternative approach is likely to be effective in producing conductors who have the knowledge and ability to safely perform as conductors.