September 30, 2014

Report: Hazardous chemicals not on trains’ cargo lists

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At least 18 times in the past three years BNSF Railway freight trains rolled west out of Minneapolis pulling cars filled with hazardous chemicals that were not on the train’s official cargo list, according to train crew complaints. That’s contrary to federal regulation because in case of an accident, local firefighters can be left in [...]

RRB unemployment, sickness benefits to decrease

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Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) will reduce railroad unemployment and sickness insurance benefits by 7.3 percent, up from the current 7.2 percent reduction, due to federal budget cuts first implemented in March 2013. The adjusted reduction amount is based on revised projections of benefit claims and payments under the Railroad [...]

Class I employment grows during August

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The U.S. Class I workforce continued to grow last month. As of mid-August, the large railroads employed 167,988 people, up 0.5 percent from July’s level and 2.8 percent from August 2013′s mark, according to Surface Transportation Board employment data. On a month-over-month basis, the maintenance-of-way and structures workforce was relatively flat at 37,329 (down less [...]

Newspaper reports on SMART TD’s Risch

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One Bismarck man has ridden the rails from shoveling rock and swinging a spike mallet in the railyard to top official of the country’s largest railway employee union. John Risch has been elected national legislative director of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. His five-year term starts Oct. 1. Read [...]

BNSF: Keystone pipeline won’t dent crude by rail

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One of the top executives at the nation’s leading hauler of crude oil in trains said Friday that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t take away any of his company’s business. Matt Rose, the executive chairman of BNSF Railway, told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that the controversial pipeline project would move primarily heavy crude [...]

James Stem: ‘The times…they are a changing’

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As I prepare for retirement, there are many things on my mind about the future of our industry and transportation workers that I have had the honor to represent during my career. The most important item on my agenda today, and every day during the past 31 years that I have been a legislative officer, [...]

Senate panel approves freight rail oversight changes

The Senate committee that deals with transportation issues approved a bill to beef up the panel of federal regulators that is supposed to oversee operations on the nation’s freight and passenger railways. The measure, which was approved unanimously on Wednesday by the Senate Commerce Committee, emboldens the Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) to [...]

House panel approves Amtrak budget cut

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A bill that would cut Amtrak’s authorization for new construction spending by 40 percent was unanimously approved Wednesday by the House Transportation Committee. The measure, which was passed on a voice vote with little debate, would reduce Amtrak’s authorized spending level for new construction from approximately $1.3 billion per year under the last Amtrak funding [...]

OSHA announces new injury-reporting requirements

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA record-keeping [...]

Nevada truck firm could pay $5.5M+ in Amtrak crash

RENO, Nev. – A Nevada trucking company could be forced to pay more than $5.7 million if a judge formalizes a jury verdict that faulted one of its drivers for a fiery 2011 crash with an Amtrak train that killed six people and injured dozens. A federal jury in Reno awarded $4.5 million to Amtrak [...]