Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono, writing about the most recent congressional hearing on Positive Train Control, as well as attempts by some Members of Congress to arm-twist the Federal Railroad Administration on granting exemptions, opined, “I’ve said it before many times, but it’s always worth repeating: Politics should not be involved in safety. Why engage in politics at this stage of the game? What is the agenda here? Who or what is behind this?”
If the new Amtrak management team is sincerely trying to improve safety, we ought to all support what they are doing. But if Amtrak is only using safety as a stalking horse to pursue another agenda (such as discontinuing L-D trains, as is believed in many circles), it should be called out on it.
Watching Washington, September 2018: If two congressional directives are not aptly labeled “Cheech and Chong Provisions,” why is their sum “420” and their consequence a seeming hallucinatory decade-long cavort through the federal court system whose clashing opinions have pinged and ponged as if a Super Mario arcade game?
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded more than $200 million in funds to assist with the deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC), with a second solicitation expected soon for a remaining $46 million. As well, the agency released its second-quarter 2018 PTC progress report, which shows “significant improvement.”
Why don’t the railroads have comprehensive medical fitness-for-duty standards? Why does this persist, in spite of several train collisions and derailments attributed to medical issues like untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? This analysis of those questions considers the in-terests and relationships among the three primary interested parties: railroad management, railroad labor and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the regulator.
I thought I’d chance watching the video recording of NTSB’s July 10-11, 2018 Investigative Hearing: Managing Safety on Passenger Railroads.
Industry watchers greeted the news of the recent BNSF derailment in Doon, Iowa, as typical ho-hum news. 32 tank railcars hauling crude derailed on a stretch of track that had been compromised by floodwaters. Several of the cars were ruptured and there was a crude spill. Emergency services (BNSF and others) were able to contain the size of the spill, and residents of the area were evacuated as a precaution. Luckily for all parties involved, there was no conflagration whatsoever as a result of the derailment.
The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program that includes more than $318 million in grant funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
BNSF announced in December 2017 that it had fully installed and was operating under Positive Train Control (PTC) on all mandated subdivisions in advance of the Dec. 31, 2018 interim federal deadline. However, on June 13, it submitted a request to the Federal Railroad Administration for an alternative schedule, a two-year extension to Dec. 31, 2020, because “full implementation status cannot be achieved until all non-BNSF trains and/or equipment operating on its PTC-equipped lines are also PTC-compliant.”
I am a frequent flier. Since very few commercial airliners crash, I naturally assume that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the airlines themselves are doing everything possible to ensure that flight crews are medically fit to fly commercial airplanes.