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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA declares emergency in response to coronavirus outbreak

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory
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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has activated the agency's emergency relief docket in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the agency announced late last week.

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory determined that the imminent threat and exposure to the disease constitutes an "emergency situation" as related to railroad operations.

Activating the emergency relief docket means that railroads may request relief from FRA regulations related to the emergency, FRA officials said in its announcement.

Requests for relief must address how the request relates to the emergency and, at a minimum, specify how the petitioner or the public is affected by the emergency; what FRA regulations are implicated; how waiver of those regulations would benefit the petitioner during the emergency; and how long the railroad expects to be affected by the emergency.

Any relief granted will not exceed 60 days, agency officials said.

Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern Railway officials announced yesterday in a statement to customers and supply chain partners that it has activated its Operations Command Center, which is staffed with senior management to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and its impact on the railroad and its employees.

NS employees not directly associated with train operations will now work from home; access to its Network Operations Center and other critical functions in offices has been restricted; and additional sanitizing and cleaning activities are underway.

Union Pacific Railroad also informed customers that its pandemic operating plan is in place. The plan includes establishing a command center staffed by personnel who are essential to train operations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/16/2020