WASHINGTON -- On January 2, 1997, the FRA issued its final rule requiring two-way-end-of-train telemetry devices. The effective date is July 1, 1997. In general the regulations require trains exceeding 30 miles per hour which operate on heavy grades to be equipped with such devices. There are a number of exceptions, and the definition of heavy grade encompasses two different sets of conditions as follows;
For a train operating with 4,000 trailing tons or less, a section of track with an average grade of 2% or greater over a distance of 2 continuous miles; and for a train operating with greater than 4,000 trailing tons, a section of track with an average grade of 1% or greater over a distance of 3 continuous miles.
The following types of trains are exempted from the requirement for having a two-way EOT:
1. Trains with a locomotive capable of making an emergency brake application located in the rear third of the train length.
2. Trains operating in the push mode with the ability to make an emergency brake application from the rear.
3. Trains with an operational and occupied caboose equipped with an emergency brake valve.
4. Trains operating with a secondary full independent braking system capable of stopping the train in the event of failure of the primary system.
5. Trains that do not operate over heavy grades and do not exceed 30 miles per hour.
6. Local trains that do not operate over heavy grades. A local train is defined as one assigned to perform switching en route which operates with 4,000 trailing tons or less and travels a distance that is no greater than that which can normally be operated by a single crew in a single tour of duty.
7. Work trains that do not operate over heavy grades. A work train is defined as a non-revenue service train of 4,000 trailing tons or less used for the administration and the upkeep service of the railroad.
8. Trains that are not part of the general railroad system.
9. Passenger trains with emergency brakes.
The two-way EOT rule sets out design and performance standards which must be met, including among other things that the rear unit on a command shall open a valve on the brake line and hold it open for a minimum of 15 seconds; and the front to rear communications link shall be checked automatically at least every 10 minutes.
The FRA has imposed a performance standard which requires that the rear unit batteries shall be sufficiently charged at the initial terminal or other point where the device is installed and throughout the train's trip to ensure that the EOT will remain operative until the train reaches its destination. Therefore, FRA will impose a strict liability standard regarding failures due to insufficiently charged batteries, and it will be a per se violation, if a device fails en route due to insufficiently charged batteries.
It the EOT device fails en route, the speed of the train shall be limited to 30 mile per hour. A loss of communication between the front and rear units will be considered an en route failure only if the loss of communication is for a period greater than 16 minutes and 30 seconds. In addition to the 30 miles per hour speed restriction, the train shall not operate over a section of track with an average grade of 2% or higher over a distance of 2 continuous miles unless (1) the train has an occupied helper locomotive in which there is two-way voice radio communication with the engineer on the head end of the train and they have the capability of stopping the train where there is a loss of communication; or (2) there is an occupied caboose at the end of the train with a functional brake valve capable of initiating an emergency brake application from the caboose; or (3) use of a radio-controlled locomotive in the rear third of the train under continuous control of the engineer in the head end.
TESTING OF THE TWO-WAY END-OF-TRAIN DEVICE
From the Federal Register:
"232.25 Inspection and testing of the end-of-train devices.
(a) After each installation of either the front or rear unit of an end-of-train device, or both, on a train and before the train departs, the railroad shall determine that the identification code entered into the from unit is identical to the unique identification code on the rear-of-train unit.
(b) After each installation of either the front or rear unit of an end-of-train device, or both, the functional capability of the device shall be determined, after charging the train, by comparing the quantitative value displayed on the rear unit or on a properly calibrated air gauge. The end-of-train device shall not be used if the difference between the two readings exceeds three pounds per square inch.
(c) A two-way end-of-train device shall be tested at the initial terminal or other point of installation to ensure that the device is capable of initiating an emergency power brake application from the rear of the train. If this test is conducted by a person other than a member of the crew, the locomotive engineer shall be informed that the test was performed.
(d) The telemetry equipment shall be calibrated for accuracy according to the manufacturer's specifications at least every 365 days. The date of the last calibration, the location where the calibration was made, and the name of the person doing the calibration shall be legibly displayed on a weather-resistant sticker or other marking device affixed to the outside of both the front unit and the rear unit.
Note: FRA recognizes four methods for testing to ensure the devices will place the train in emergency. Each railroad can use any of the following methods:
1. Dumping the whole train into emergency once the device is attached.
2. Closing the angle cock on the last one or two cars and then activating an emergency once the device is attached.
3. Inspection and testing of the emergency valve on the device once it is attached to ensure it functions properly without placing any cars in emergency.
4. Bench testing the devices prior to their being armed and placed on the train within a reasonable time period prior to attaching the device to the train.
Use of a method other than those listed will not be permitted if the
FRA finds that it does not sufficiently ensure that the device is capable
of initiating an emergency brake application.