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Worker fatigue relief bill back in Congress


Worker fatigue long has posed a danger to railroads and workers — especially locomotive engineers. Some Class Is over the past few years have implemented programs designed to provide rest for employees who work seven consecutive 12-hour days.

However, Union Pacific Railroad earlier this summer eliminated some work-rest programs for locomotive engineers, citing program costs and a larger engineer pool. The railroad plans to have substitute engineers on call 24/7, filling in for regular engineers.

In help ensure all railroads establish rest procedures, Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, July 23 introduced to Congress H.R. 2596, a rail worker fatigue relief bill.

H.R. 2596 states that a railroad "may not require a train employee who has been on duty or available for duty for any portion of seven consecutive days to be available for duty until at least 72 consecutive hours have passed."

The bill was referred to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Railroads before Congress' August recess. The House and Senate will reconvene Sept. 5.

H.R. 2596 is identical to H.R. 3091, which was introduced to Congress in fall and garnered 202 co-sponsors, but died in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee as Congress adjourned in late 2000.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/16/2001