Regulations & Rulemaking

Rulemaking is a process for developing and issuing rules (rules are also referred to as “regulations”).  The process can lead to the issuance of a new rule, an amendment to an existing rule, or the repeal of an existing rule. Detailed information on the Rulemaking Process, including descriptions and examples of the different types of rules are available on the US Department of Transportation's Rulemaking Page.

There are several steps in this process including a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), a comment period, evaluations (such as environmental or economic), possibly interim rules, and in most cases a Final Rule is issued.

NPRMs, Interim Rules, Final Rules, and other notices are posted in the Federal Register and all of FRA's Federal Register notices are available in an online searchable database. Additionally, NPRM's, Interim Rules, and Final Rules are available in our eLibrary.

The Federal Docket Management System is available to the public and is the complete, official record of rulemakings, guidance documents, adjudicatory actions, peer reviews, data quality and other documents. This government-wide, on-line database includes the US Department of Transporation's (DOT) public docket. 

The rulemaking docket is the file in which DOT places all of the rulemaking documents it issues (e.g., the NPRM, hearing notices, extensions of comment periods, and final rules), supporting documents that it prepares (e.g., economic and environmental analyses), studies that it relies on that are not readily available to the public, all public comments related to the rulemaking (e.g., comments that may be received in anticipation of the rulemaking, comments received during the comment period, and late-filed comments), and other related documents.  We also prepare and place in the docket summaries of any substantive, public, oral communications (sometimes referred to as "ex parte" contacts) that concern a rulemaking that we may receive.