November 23, 2014

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 [...]

FRA collects minimal enforcement fines, docs show

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation collects relatively small civil penalties against the railroads it regulates, as concern grows over the safety of shipping large volumes of crude oil and ethanol in tank cars long known to be deficient, federal documents show. A McClatchy review of annual enforcement reports shows that the Federal Railroad [...]

FRA issues Final Rule to improve rail inspections

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Jan. 24 announced new regulations governing rail inspections that will help identify rail flaws and further eliminate the risk of derailments. The new regulations require performance based inspections, a process designed to minimize rail defects that will generally result in an increase in tests [...]

Congress provides $15 million for railroad inspections

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The fatal derailment of a Metro-North train at the southern tip of the Bronx last month has spurred Capitol Hill lawmakers to boost the federal government’s “woefully underfunded” rail inspection program. The bipartisan spending deal reached Monday night by Republican and Democratic members of Congress allocated $15 million to allow the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) [...]