Regulatory

AAR: FORR NPRM “Unlawful”; SMDA Should Be Limited in Scope

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) on Nov. 12 filed comments with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) regarding two NPRMs (Notice of Proposed Rulemakings): Final Offer Rate Review (FORR) and Streamlined Market Dominance Approach (SMDA). The former, AAR said, should be scrapped because it is “unlawful” and lacks standards. The latter requires substantial limitations in scope.

Three NS Trains Collide in Western Pennsylvania

Three Norfolk Southern freight trains were involved in a Nov. 8 derailment in Hempfield, Pa., about three miles east of Greensburg, Pa. (near Pittsburgh), on the high-density Pittsburgh-Philadelphia double-track main line. There were no injuries and no hazmat spills. NS restored service on both main tracks early Nov. 10. The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.

Amtrak’s “Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate”

A change to the so-called “Arbitration Clause” buried deep within Amtrak’s “Terms and Conditions” for ticket sales that stipulates mandatory arbitration—effectively, preventing passengers from filing lawsuits against Amtrak “including, but not limited to, claims for negligence, gross negligence, physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, wrongful death, survival actions, loss of consortium and/or services, medical and hospital expenses, expenses of transportation for medical treatment, expenses of drugs and medical appliances, emotional distress, exemplary or punitive damages arising out of or related to any personal injury,” has captured the attention of legislators and passenger rail advocates.

ACC Names OmniTRAX Responsible Care® Partner

The American Chemistry Council has named OmniTRAX, Inc., a Broe Group company, to its Responsible Care® Partner Program, the chemical manufacturing industry’s environmental, health, safety and security performance initiative. OmniTRAX joins North America’s seven Class I freight railroads as the ACC’s first short line partner “to reconfirm the company’s commitment to continuous improvement in environment, health, safety and security,” the company said.

Forcing Round Pegs Into Square Holes

Frank Wilner’s excellent article in the September 2019 issue of Railway Age, “STB Moves to Rehab Antique URCS,” brought back many memories of my direct involvement in its development. To this day, I often spell the acronym for the Uniform Rail Costing System, URCS, backwards—SCRU—as many “experts” developing rail costs with it can produce these results!

Women in Rail 2019

RAILWAY AGE, NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE: Good things come in threes—and Railway Age’s Women in Rail awards are no exception. In its third year of existence, the 2019 Women in Rail awards are poised to be the most exciting yet. Recognizing vision, ability and leadership, our 12 honorees from freight, transit and supplier companies as well as trade organizations were selected by a panel of judges. They received the nod because they have been—and still are—moving their companies forward while making contributions to the community. In an industry typically dominated by men, these women are getting things done—and their hard work is an example for all.

Railway Age 10 Under 40 Awards Open for Entries

Railway Age is now accepting entries for its fourth annual “Fast Trackers” 10 Under 40 awards, in which we will profile ten individuals under the age of 40 who have made an impact in their respective fields or within their company. Nick Little, Director of Railway Education at Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education, will judge the entries. Those that represent the “best of the best” will be featured in Railway Age’s February 2020 issue and recognized at our Railroader of the Year Dinner, March 10, 2020, at the Union League Club of Chicago.

Assessing LNG-By-Rail Safety

Safety is important. Yet, we can do safety research and development a lot faster. It’s timely to ask why the regulatory process takes so long. Today in transport logistics, our society seems to lack a sense of urgency. As one example, it now takes regulatory agencies (and non-regulatory bodies like the National Transportation Safety Board) as long as 18 to 24 months to complete an accident investigation report. Why so long? It’s a mystery.