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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has vacated the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) approval of Kansas City Southern's certification program under which contracted engineers of Kansas City Southern de Mexico have been permitted to operate over Texas Mexican Railway (Tex Mex) track in the United States since July 2018.
Under the decision, the matter has been remanded to the FRA either to "offer a fuller explanation of the agency's reasoning at the time of the agency action or to deal with the problem afresh by taking new agency action," according to a press release issued by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
The BLET and SMART-Transportation Division challenged the FRA's action in approving the certification program.
The court agreed with the rail unions' position, holding that the FRA "fail[ed] to provide a reasoned explanation for its approval of the materially altered engineer certification program administered by one of the railroads," BLET officials said.
In addition, the court held that KCSM was under a statutory and regulatory obligation to have its own engineer certification program, they said.
The court declined to rule on several other objections made by the unions.