April 24, 2014

AAR: FCC policies delaying PTC

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WASHINGTON – In a new report updating the industry’s progress on installing positive train control, the nation’s freight railroads said that a year-long moratorium on installing 20,000 communication antennas imposed by the Federal Communications Commission, followed by a lengthy federal approval process mandated by the agency, has seriously delayed the implementation of nationwide interoperable PTC. [...]

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 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 [...]

FRA amends train emergency preparedness rules

The Federal Railroad Administration announced a Final Rule (FR) amending its existing Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness regulations.   The revisions make explicit that existing requirements for initial and periodic training, operational efficiency tests and inspections of certain railroad personnel apply not only to on-board crew members and control center personnel, but also to the railroad’s [...]

FRA issues final rule on critical incident stress plans

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The Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule requiring certain major railroads to develop critical incident stress plans that provide for appropriate support services to be offered to their employees who are affected by a “critical incident.” Critical incidents refer to events such as a highway-rail grade-crossing accidents or a train striking another employee or [...]

FRA proposes rule for passenger side door safety

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The Federal Railroad Administration is proposing to improve the integrity of passenger train exterior side door safety systems and promote passenger train safety overall through new safety standards relating to the safe operation and use of passenger train exterior side doors. This proposed rule is based on recommended language developed by the Railroad Safety Advisory [...]

Report finds punctuality trumps safety at Metro-North

The Metro-North Railroad has fallen prey to a “deficient safety culture” that prizes on-time performance at the expense of protecting riders and workers, according to a blistering federal review that was ordered after a spate of rail disasters. The review, from the Federal Railroad Administration, found that the commuter railroad’s operations control center pressured workers [...]

Szabo offers oversight of passenger, freight rail safety

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo addressed members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Feb. 26, providing them with oversight of passenger and freight rail safety and responding to questions. Also addressing the subcommittee were Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Cynthia Quarterman, [...]

Freight rails join Sec. Foxx in rail safety initiative

WASHINGTON – The nation’s major freight railroads Feb. 21 joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing a rail operations safety initiative that will institute new voluntary operating practices for moving crude oil by rail. The announcement follows consultations between railroads represented by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the U.S. Department of Transportation [...]