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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA to revise locomotive engineer certification rule, increase civil penalties for safety rule violations


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposes to revise a regulation governing locomotive engineer qualification and certification.

The revision would prohibit a railroad from reclassifying a worker’s locomotive engineer certificate to a more restrictive class while a certificate is still valid, but permit a railroad to place any appropriate restrictions on an engineer. The FRA also proposes to clarify that the revocation of an engineer’s certificate can only occur for the reasons specified in the regulation.

In addition, the revision would require each railroad to identify actions to be taken if a person fails a skills performance test, or the railroad finds deficiencies with an engineer’s performance during an operational monitoring observation or unannounced compliance test.

“These proposals will address unanticipated consequences arising from reclassifications and clarify the grounds upon which a railroad may revoke a locomotive engineer’s certification,” FRA officials said in a notice of proposed rulemaking recently published in the Federal Register.

The FRA is accepting written comments on the proposed rulemaking until March 2.

Meanwhile, the FRA also issued a final rule that increases civil penalties assessed for violating a railroad safety statute or regulation.  The increase incorporates the new maximum civil penalty amounts authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and new minimum amounts required under the Federal Civil Penalty Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990.

The minimum civil penalty per violation will go up from $550 to $650; ordinary maximum civil penalty per violation will increase from $16,000 to $25,000; and aggravated maximum civil penalty per violation will rise from $27,000 to $100,000. The new penalties take effect on March 2.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/2/2009