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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday rejected a petition from the railroad industry to delay a proposed expansion of mandatory drug and alcohol testing.The FRA said it would not extend the June 12, 2017, deadline by one year as requested by rail industry organizations. The agency published a final rule on June 10 to expand the scope of its drug and alcohol regulation to cover maintenance of way employees, and incorporate regulatory review-based amendments.The Association of American Railroads (AAR), which was among the industry organizations that signed the petition, was not seeking a deadline extension to implement the rules. Rather, its primary concern was over the potential for railroads being held responsible for the drug and alcohol testing programs of contractors, a spokesman said."Major freight railroads in the country have comprehensive drug and alcohol testing programs for their employees. They support the rule for track maintenance workers and can meet the 2017 deadline; this is a priority for the industry," said AAR spokesman Ed Greenberg. The freight railroads have been performing formal drug and alcohol testing for many years. The industry not only complies with federally mandated testing regulations, but goes beyond those measures with "stringent railroad-specific programs," Greenberg added."This is an issue that is evident throughout today's society that requires attention, and our industry supports the expansion of testing to include items such as synthetic opioids," he said.
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