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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA to address hours-of-service recordkeeping, engineer certification as part of USDOT initiative


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) yesterday announced six new actions it plans to take to eliminate out-of-date or duplicative paperwork. The actions are in response to a presidential order issued in May 2012 that instructed federal agencies to continually examine all existing rules and requirements to ensure they're necessary, streamlined and current.

To be implemented across a wide range of transportation areas, the actions could reduce the amount of time spent on paperwork and reporting by more than 450,000 hours, USDOT officials said in a prepared statement.

Three of the actions involve the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). For one, the agency plans to allow some smaller freight and commuter railroads to use a simplified electronic recordkeeping system for hours-of-service (HOS) records. The action would encourage a greater number of railroads to adopt electronic HOS recordkeeping systems and save small railroad operators more than 200,000 hours of paperwork, USDOT officials said.

The FRA also plans to revise HOS regulations to help small railroad operators who continue to use paper recordkeeping systems. The revision would enable those operators to manage their reports internally instead of submitting every report to the FRA, reducing the time required for each individual report by an estimated 30 minutes, USDOT officials said.

Under a third action, the FRA plans to revise regulations that would streamline the process for certifying locomotive engineers. The revisions would eliminate unnecessary redundancies by allowing engineers to use a single medical certificate for both the conductor and engineer certification processes, USDOT officials said.

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More News from 12/19/2012