U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced proposed improvements to existing Passenger Train Emergency Systems regulations that could further protect occupants of passenger trains during emergencies.

“Safety is our highest priority,” said Secretary LaHood.

“Adoption of these safety measures will help rail passengers locate and operate emergency exits.

“These improvements will also make sure that first responders can quickly reach passengers in need during emergency situations.”

The proposed regulations are expected to improve railroad safety by helping improve the ability to safely evacuate passengers and crewmembers in the event of an emergency.

Specifically, the rule addresses passenger train emergency systems including vestibule doors, emergency lighting, signage and markings for emergency entrance and exit, and rescue access.

It also addresses the application of photo luminescent materials to highlight emergency exit path markings, instructions for emergency systems operations and requirements for debriefing after emergency situations and simulations.

“These proposed improvements represent an upgrade to the already high safety standards we help enforce,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo.

“The proposed new requirements are based on the latest developments in passenger train emergency system technologies and best practices.”

The proposed requirements are based on recommendations of FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and were developed by its Passenger Safety Working Group, Emergency Preparedness Task Force.

The proposed regulation would also incorporate three industry standards developed by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Comments on the proposal are due by March 5, 2012.