November 27, 2014

Transit friend to head Senate Budget Committee

Morr, Bonnie.2011

By Bonnie MorrVice President, Bus Department –  Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State, is the new chairperson of the Senate Budget Committee, which makes decisions on how much of the annual federal budget is available for transit. As chairperson, Sen. Murray will set the agenda and tone of Senate Budget Committee hearings and [...]

Senate confirms two to Amtrak board

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The U.S. Senate has confirmed Christopher R. Beall and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke as new members of the Amtrak Board of Directors for five-year terms. Beall, of Oklahoma, is a partner at Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm specializing in the transportation, environmental services and energy sectors. Previously, Beall was chief financial officer for Aslan Group, [...]

Rail unemployment extended benefits to continue

The so-called fiscal cliff bill approved by the House and Senate Jan. 1 allows extended railroad unemployment benefits to continue through Dec. 31, 2013, with Congress appropriating $250,000 to the Railroad Retirement Board to administer those extended benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. The extension affects those railroaders out of work at least six [...]

Rail random alcohol, drug test-rate static for 2013

Random alcohol and drug testing rates for railroad workers in safety sensitive positions will remain at the same rate during 2013 as 2012. The Federal Railroad Administration said that because the random alcohol testing violation rate has remained below 0.5 percent for the past two years, the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at [...]

FRA: Intensive conductor training essential

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One of the strongest studies validating the need for two-person crews and intensive training for conductors has come from the Federal Railroad Administration. The conclusion is that the conductor and engineer function as a team, with managing multiple priorities essential to safe train operation – especially with regard to use of positive train control technology [...]

FRA to allow paperwork reduction

Three actions announced by the FRA this month are intended to eliminate out-of-date duplicative paperwork for smaller railroads, as well as for engineers seeking dual engineer and conductor certification.  Among the changes proposed: * Streamlining the process for certifying locomotive engineers by  allowing engineers to use a single medical certificate for both the conductor and engineer [...]

2012 a banner year for Amtrak

For Amtrak, Santa has been nice all year – if you forget the numerous and vicious attacks on Amtrak by outgoing House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica. As we look back on 2012, Mica’s attacks were primarily theater, for the benefit of his conservative base, with about as much chance of Amtrak funding [...]

Republican nominated to vacant NMB post

WASHINGTON – Nicholas C. Geale, a Republican staff member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, was nominated by President Obama Dec. 17 to be a member of the National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act affecting railroads and airlines. If confirmed by the Senate, Geale would take the now vacant Republican seat [...]

Update on Amtrak negotiations

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UTU Amtrak conductors and yardmasters are currently in mediation with regard to an amended wage, benefits and working conditions agreement. The UTU and Amtrak are far apart on a few difficult issues. At this time, the parties are exploring alternative methods of interest-based resolution. This may or may not work. The UTU and Amtrak have [...]

New OSHA standards may affect flight attendants

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a proposed policy statement to establish the extent to which OSHA regulations may apply to flight attendants onboard an aircraft in operation. An FAA-OSHA memorandum of understanding (MOU) previously established a team to identify factors to be considered when determining when OSHA standards may apply to employees on aircraft [...]