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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is proposing to expand the scope of its alcohol and drug regulations to cover maintenance-of-way (MOW) employees. The agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the measure in response to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.The administration also is proposing certain "substantive amendments" that either respond to National Transportation Safety Board recommendations or update and clarify the alcohol and drug regulations based on "a retrospective regulatory review analysis," FRA officials said in the NPRM.Because MOW employees are not subject to hours-of-service laws, the FRA is proposing "regulated service" as a new term that would encompass both covered service and MOW activities. Performance of regulated service would make an individual a regulatedemployee subject to alcohol and drug regulations, regardless of whether the individual isemployed by a railroad or a contractor."This NPRM addresses the application of drug and alcohol testing for maintenance-of-way employees that are not now covered by those requirements," said SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director James Stem in a news item posted on the union's website. "[MOW] employees will be tested at a higher rate for the first two years under this NPRM than the other covered service employees."The FRA is accepting comments on the NPRM until Sept. 26. The agency doesn't anticipate a public hearing associated with the rulemaking, but if it receives a specific request for one prior to Aug. 27, a public hearing will be scheduled, FRA officials said.