July 29, 2015

House GOP proposes tighter transportation spending

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee released its fiscal-year 2016 budget proposals for transportation, housing and urban development, which call for cuts to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) discretionary spending, as well as reductions in the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) budgets. The bill proposes $17.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for [...]

FRA approves $1B loan to N.Y. MTA for PTC system

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced April 24 that the Federal Railroad Administration has approved a loan of $967.1 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the improvement of the safety of the signal systems used by the MTA’s two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The loan, which is the largest [...]

DOT takes action on movement of energy products

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced with its agencies, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a package of targeted actions that will address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail. The volume of crude [...]

Rules on oil train safety not moving fast enough

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A chorus of lawmakers expressed frustration Tuesday with the delays in approving and implementing various regulations related to the movement of hazardous materials by rail and pipeline. The acting chiefs of two U.S. Department of Transportation agencies heard Republicans and Democrats in the House Transportation Committee complain that rules on railroad tank cars and oil [...]

AAR: Statistics confirm rail safety advancements

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Latest safety statistics released by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in April confirmed 2014 was the safest year on record for freight train operations in the United States, according to the Association of American Railroads. Highlights of FRA freight rail safety data (per million train miles): Since 2000, the train accident rate is down 45 [...]

UP request to haul liquefied natural gas criticized

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Union Pacific Railroad has applied for permission to haul liquefied natural gas, which would add another combustible cargo to a U.S. rail network already being criticized for transporting ethanol and crude oil through populated areas. The Omaha-based railroad said the application for a permit from the Federal Railroad Administration is in response to a request [...]

Acting FRA chief has some in Congress impressed

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After a string of deadly train crashes, a pair of angry U.S. senators stood in New York’s Grand Central Terminal four months ago to denounce the Federal Railroad Administration as a “lawless agency, a rogue agency,” too cozy with the railroads it regulates and more interested in “cutting corners” for them than protecting the public. [...]

FRA issues directive to replace tank car valves

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) March 13 issued a Railworthiness Directive requiring railroad tank car owners to replace unapproved valves currently installed in some tank cars. The valves in question are UNNR ball valves manufactured and sold by McKenzie Valve & Machining LLC (McKenzie). Recent FRA investigations revealed that the [...]

Dangerous trains, aging rails

A CSX freight train ran off the rails last month in rural Mount Carbon, W.Va. One after another, exploding rail cars sent hellish fireballs hundreds of feet into the clear winter sky. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency, and the fires burned for several days. The Feb. 16 accident was one of [...]

FRA may require risk reduction programs

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The Federal Railroad Administration is considering a rule that would require Class I freight railroads and railroads with poor safety performances to develop and implement formal risk reduction programs. A risk reduction program would involve employees working together to identify potential hazards and determine plans to reduce or eliminate associated risks, FRA said in a [...]