April 23, 2014

RRB discusses Medicare for railroad families

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The federal Medicare program provides hospital and medical insurance protection for railroad retirement annuitants and their families, just as it does for social security beneficiaries. Medicare has the following parts: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (following a hospital stay), some home health care services, [...]

Senators push for more railroad inspectors

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WASHINGTON – More than a dozen U.S. senators, including North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, are pushing to put more federal railroad inspectors in the field. Boosting inspector numbers – which haven’t grown in the Bakken region even as oil production and crude-by-rail traffic has boomed – has become a top priority for [...]

FRA’s Szabo testifies on rail safety before STB

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Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo testified April 10 before members of the Surface Transportation Board regarding the negative impact service degradation on the nation’s railroad network could have on rail safety and Amtrak on-time performance. His prepared oral testimony follows: Chairman Elliott and Vice Chairman Begeman, on behalf of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, thank [...]

How employees deal with death on the railroad

Kim Davids has been a freight conductor for 39 years. Within those four decades, he’s witnessed 16 grade-crossing accidents, and every year around Christmastime he remembers one in particular. On a winter day in Utah 38 years ago, a woman in a car stuck on the tracks was clamoring out of a window to escape [...]

DOT’s Foxx urges safer rail tank cars

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Wednesday asked oil-by-rail leaders to create a tank car fit to carry the kinds of fuel involved in recent fiery derailments even as he dodged lawmaker questions about when such a plan would be ready. Rail shipments of oil have been on the rise in regions that [...]

FRA to issue proposed rule on minimum train crews

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration April 9 announced its intention to issue a proposed rule requiring two-person train crews on crude oil trains and establishing minimum crew size standards for most main line freight and passenger rail operations. The FRA also intends to advance a rulemaking on train securement and [...]

Start-time variability contributes to fatigue, accidents

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Start time variability in work schedules is often assumed to be a cause of railroad employee fatigue because unpredictable work-start times prevent employees from planning sleep and personal activities. A new report published by the Federal Railroad Administration examines work start time differences from three different databases previously published by the FRA. The studies conclude [...]

Report: Northeast Corridor is an economic engine

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A new report, “The Northeast Corridor and the American Economy,” produced by the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission (NEC Commission) details how the Northeast Corridor (NEC), carrying 750,000 daily Amtrak and commuter/regional rail passengers, “is a critical national asset, an economic engine for the U.S., and contributes about $50 billion a year to [...]

No culture of safety at NJT, union official says

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Conductors assaulted on trains. Employee facilities that are filthy and infested with rodents. A culture where “an on-time train is better than a safe train.” An New Jersey Transit union official said Tuesday (April 8) there is no culture of safety at the statewide transportation agency. “We just go about our work every day and we’re not [...]

Railroads stress safety after deaths up in 2013

Railroads are launching a new campaign to highlight the dangers of being near train tracks after a spike in rail deaths last year. At this time last year, the railroads were proudly calling 2012 their safest year ever as derailments and crossing accidents kept declining. But last year, the number of trespassing deaths rose by [...]