LEGISLATIVE REPORT, APRIL 2019 – Knock, knock. Who’s there? If at the door are those laboring in official Washington, the answer is, “many new faces”—new congressional committee chairs, regulators, association chiefs, lobbyists and labor negotiators. Does not danger dwell where unfamiliarity and uncertainty lurk?
Federal Railroad Administration
Norfolk Southern has filed a petition with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a waiver of compliance from certain provisions of federal railroad safety regulations regarding refresher training for mechanical inspectors, “FRA WAIVER PETITION DOCKET No. FRA-2018-0100, Brake System Safety Standards for Freight and Other Non-passenger Trains and Equipment, End-Of-Train Devices (49 C.F.R. Part 232).” Two unions have filed comments disputing NS’s petition.
For all intents and purposes, California’s high-speed rail project is dead. At least that’s the consensus among several observers of the U.S. high-speed rail scene, which, sadly, appears to be based more upon fantasy than reality.
The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded MTA Metro-North Railroad a grant of up to $2.3 million to support Positive Train Control (PTC) communications testing. The grant, part of the FRA’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, will help Metro-North improve the performance of PTC radio spectrum utilization required to make PTC operational on the Northeast Corridor.
A recent internal Transport Canada (TC) document warns of the safety risks posed by exhausted crew members on trains, even as Alberta pursues a plan to ratchet up already-booming shipments of crude by rail.
Wheeling & Lake Erie and Herzog completed brake testing and preparations for Positive Train Control functionality in revenue service by the end of 2018.
The largest Canadian Class I railroad says it met its year-end deadline to install positive train control (PTC) equipment across its system, and is seeking a two-year extension “to complete deployment and interoperability.”
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Dec. 21 awarded $46.30 million in grant funding for 11 projects in 10 states to assist with deploying Positive Train Control (PTC) systems, marking the second selection of PTC systems deployment projects under the Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act administered via the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, collectively totaling $250 million.
The effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government on the rail community appear not to be significant, at least for now.
Some in the federal work force may say, “Take this job and shove it,” but not so at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), where job satisfaction for 2018 was the highest among the Department of Transportation’s nine modal administrations.