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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has granted a request from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to renew temporary emergency relief from certain rail safety regulations so that commuter railroads can address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a May 22 letter to APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas, FRA officials said extending the emergency relief from certain regulations for 60 days is "in the public interest, is necessary to address the COVID-19 public health emergency and is not inconsistent with railroad safety."
The FRA granted the emergency relief renewal, with certain exceptions, to commuter railroads facing workforce shortages and other constraints related to the COVID-19 public health emergency that prevent the agencies from completing federally mandated railroad safety tests, inspections and other requirements in a timely manner.
In its May 15 letter requesting the renewal, APTA officials noted that as a result of COVID-19, commuter railroads are operating with a much-reduced workforce, as over 2,500 employees have tested positive or self-quarantined over the past 45 days.