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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT should consider small railroads when making new rules, ASLRRA says


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) should consider the small business perspective when proposing new regulations, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Senior Vice President Jo Strang told the Small Business Administration's Office in preparation for a hearing on national regulatory fairness.

Strang, who oversees safety and regulatory policy for ASLRRA, commented on behalf of the nation's 603 short lines. She urged the department to consider small business needs as required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act when considering rulemakings.

She also called for any new action to be reviewed based on sound data and to provide the community with an opportunity to engage with the administration prior to a rulemaking.

"The USDOT should require agencies within the department to use current data and sound science to establish the need for a new rule, and give the public meaningful opportunity to review, assess, supplement and comment upon it," Strang said in written comments prior to the hearing, according to an ASLRRA press release.

"Too often, agencies give little or no relief to small carriers from the effects of rules designed for giant Class I railroads based on cursory economic analyses based on faulty assumptions," she added.

ASLRRA also asked the department to review specific rules, including for training standards and risk reduction, and consider removing obsolete inspection, reporting and communication requirements to ease the unnecessary regulatory burden on small railroads.

Moreover, the association asked that the Federal Railroad Administration follow its agency policy on small businesses, provide consistent training for short lines and work with them to gain compliance, rather than immediately assess civil penalties.

Strang acknowledged that some FRA regions are "taking a collaborative approach" to enforcing safety regulations.

"Giving railroads the chance to fix the issue and adjust operations is the key to creating a safer working environment," Strang testified. "FRA working together with the railroad will have long-lasting positive safety impacts that move the industry forward."

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