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Proposed FRA rule would ban on-duty workers from using electronic devices


Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it has proposed a rule that would prohibit railroad operating employees from “improperly” using electronic devices while on duty.

The rule would restrict or prohibit the use of personal or railroad-supplied cell phones and other handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants, by locomotive engineers, conductors, switchmen and other train workers. Operating employees would be permitted to use cell phones or certain electronic devices under “highly limited circumstances,” according to the FRA. The proposed rule also would authorize the administration to review a railroad’s training program regarding the use of electronic devices and require that records be kept to document those employees who receive recurrent training at specified intervals.

The FRA has determined that federal regulations are necessary to more effectively prevent the “inappropriate and unauthorized use of these devices on the job,” FRA officials said in a prepared statement, adding that preliminary investigation findings of last year's Metrolink/Union Pacific Railroad train accident showed that the Metrolink engineer was text messaging at the time of the collision.

The FRA is seeking comments on whether rule violations should be used as a basis for revoking a locomotive engineer’s federal certification. Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking are due by June 17.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/18/2010