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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Friday issued a final rule that strengthens training requirements for railroad employees, contractors and subcontractors who perform safety-related work.The rule requires minimum training standards for each type of safety-related railroad employee; mandates that the FRA review and approve each employer's training program to ensure workers will be qualified to measurable standards; promotes greater use of structured on-the-job and interactive training; establishes methods for each employer to review and improve training programs annually, with a focus on closing performance gaps; and provides a streamlined, more universal approach to bolster training for operators of crane-equipped roadway maintenance machines that are employed across multiple jurisdictions."Safety is our top priority and this is just the latest step in our mission to ensure the safety of railroad employees, the public and the communities these railroads pass through," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release.Mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), the rule will ensure that safety-related employees are trained and qualified to comply with any relevant federal railroad safety laws, regulations and orders, FRA officials said.“Quality training is fundamental to the execution of safety sensitive railroad duties," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. "This regulation ensures the heightened professionalism of the workforce that keeps our railroads running safety and efficiently every day."Through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, the FRA is working to meet other RSIA mandates, including the development of a framework for creating and implementing performance-based programs that anticipate and reduce risks. The FRA also is preparing a final rule to amend its regulations related to roadway workers and developing more stringent passenger-rail equipment safety standards.