FRA morale tops among rail agencies

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.

FRA finalizes HSR rulemaking

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Nov. 21 issued a final rule establishing what it’s calling” modern, performance-based safety standards for railroad passenger equipment.” The rule, characterized as a “deregulatory action” under Executive Order (EO) 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” is expected to save more than $475 million in net regulatory costs.

3Q18 PTC stats show good progress

Federal Railroad Administration third-quarter 2018 Positive Train Control (PTC) data shows railroads’ “continued progress toward meeting the year-end deadline for fully implementing PTC systems or qualifying for an alternative schedule,” FRA said on Nov. 21.

FRA offers $272M in SOGR capex funds

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program, which makes more than $272 million in capital grant funding available.

Batory to industry: “Seize the fourth quarter”

Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory on Oct. 17 completed a second series of meetings with senior leadership of Positive Train Control (PTC) system suppliers that are directly associated with the eight railroads FRA has identified as “most at risk of not meeting statutory requirements by the end of the year.”

The clock is running on untreated OSA

Timely accident investigations are critical to the future of safe transportation operations, for a number of reasons. First, they must begin expeditiously. As the clock runs, evidence can deteriorate or become corrupted. Witness memories of events fade, sometimes to the detriment of actual fact-finding. Second, the search for cause factors and efforts to remediate are delayed, leaving people and property at risk of more accidents and incidents caused by the same risk factors. Third, as time passes, other accidents and incidents demand investigation, putting a strain on investigatory resources.

The folly of hearings and fines

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?”

Amtrak needs to lead by example

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.

Amtrak denied precision scheduling

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?

From FRA, a $200MM PTC infusion and an upbeat progress report

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.”

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