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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA allows certain regulatory relief during pandemic

Ronald Batory is administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Photo – fra.dot.gov


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued some temporary regulatory relief to railroads so that they can respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FRA announced the decision last week after the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) and the American Public Transportation Association petitioned the agency seeking relief.

In response to the petitions, the "crucial regulatory relief" addresses a variety of provisions, generally conditioned on the existence of workforce shortages and other constraints as a direct result of the COVID-19 impact that could prevent individual railroads from completing mandated railroad safety tests and inspections or other requirements on time, according to a summary issued by the ASLRRA.

In addition, some relief is granted from certain regulations and operational testing requirements because of the railroads' needs to practice social distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are record-keeping requirements that come with the regulatory relief. The ASLRRA is offering guidance on some of the requirements on its website.

The FRA's letter to the railroad associations can be read here.