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4/9/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Intermodal, rail associations seek one-year extension for equipment safety retrofits


Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), Association of American Railroads (AAR), Institute of International Container Lessors (IILC) and Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) April 3 announced a joint petition to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requesting a one-year deadline extension to regulations requiring railroads and ocean carriers to retrofit certain intermodal trailers and semi-trailers (including chassis) with reflective materials to increase visibility and safety.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 1999 issued regulations requiring that all trailers and chassis manufactured before Dec. 1, 1993, be retrofitted with reflective material by June 1, 2001.
Approximately 430,000 intermodal trailers and chassis are governed by FHWA’s regulations — 80 percent of which are owned by IANA, AAR, IILC and OCEMA members.
Association officials believe only 237,000 trailers and chassis — or 55 percent — will be retrofitted by June 1, rendering nearly half their equipment unavailable for use. A resulting equipment shortage could cause congestion or gridlock at U.S. ports, rail terminals and inland facilities at the beginning of the peak shipping season, association officials said in a prepared statement.
"The number of trailers and chassis covered by this [extension] request is a relatively small portion of the total number of trailers and chassis in active use in the United States, which primarily are used for short hauls in port areas" said IANA President Joni Casey. "In our view, highway and port congestion and gridlock would raise a greater safety hazard."
Association officials also believe the two-year window to bring equipment to regulation standards is too short, claiming that industry commentators in 1999 predicted a five-year period to complete mandated retrofits.
"Since 1999, an unprecedented growth in trade has kept this equipment in almost constant use, making it very difficult to capture for retrofit," said IILC President Hank White. "Under the circumstances, completing the task in three years will be a major and noteworthy achievement."


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