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Do Railroad Contractors Need an FRA Approval Letter?

This has recently become the most common question I am asked by contractors There are a couple of points to consider in order to determine if an FRA approval letter is required.

Some FRA programs require submission, but not all of them. 

Many training programs are no longer required to be submitted to FRA.

Here are some examples of common training programs that railroad contractors need training for under federal railroad safety laws and regulations but are no longer required to be submitted to FRA: 

Some examples of training programs that will require submission include: 

Refer to pages 8-11 in the FRA Compliance Manual for a complete list of training programs that do NOT require submission (you can find a copy here). Regardless of if you submit the training program to FRA or not, you still need to comply with the training requirements in 243 for any safety-related task as defined in the regulation. 

The follow-up question I typically get when I explain that not all programs need to be submitted is, "If I don't need to submit my training program to FRA, why is my railroad customer requiring a letter from FRA that indicates I have an approved program?" 

There is some confusion in the industry about if contractors are required to get approval letters from the FRA for the 243 training programs. The confusion comes from the regulatory language in §243.107(a) that states, An employer who provides or is responsible for the training of safety-related railroad employees shall submit its training program to FRA for review and approval. Several railroads have quoted this portion of 243 to contractors when asking for documentation that the railroad is compliant with 243.

A couple of thoughts on this: 

The requirements between railroads and contractors are not always regulatory in nature and are also contractual. You will need to work with your customers to ensure you are providing the proper documentation. However, there is not a regulatory requirement that contractors get FRA approval letters for the training programs that no longer require a submission.  

Do you have other questions about 243 compliance? Join us for a webinar that will be an open forum of Q&A on 243 on April 20th. More details can be found at

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