Transportation Secretary Slater Announces Proposed Revisions to Locomotive Engineer Regulations
Tuesday, September 22, 1998 (Washington, DC)
U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a proposal to revise and update federal safety regulations that govern both the nation’s railroads and the 40,000 men and women who work as locomotive engineers on America’s freight, passenger and commuter railroads.
"Safety is President Clinton’s highest transportation priority," Secretary Slater said. "This proposal would help ensure that America’s railroads continue to operate safely into the 21st century."
The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published in today’s Federal Register, would strengthen the requirements concerning the training and qualifications of locomotive engineers and their supervisors.
"Mergers and the recent growth of smaller railroads have made the safety-critical work of locomotive engineers more important than ever," said FRA Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris. "This proposal eases regulatory burdens while maintaining high safety standards."
Molitoris was especially pleased that the proposal is the result of a consensus reached by the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). The RSAC is composed of 48 voting representatives from 27 member organizations nationwide, including railroads, rail labor unions, equipment manufacturers, state governments, and pubic interest groups.
Since 1992, the regulations have required railroads to disqualify locomotive engineers who violate certain safety rules. The proposal retains this provision but amends the disqualification periods and provides increased opportunities for remedial training for less serious violations. It also addresses minimum safety standards for the operation of vehicles which may be used in lieu of traditional locomotives. The proposal defines the options available to new, start-up railroads and the methods to be used to train and qualify locomotive engineers when increased business allows abandoned lines to be rehabilitated and reopened. In addition, it clarifies the minimum hearing and vision standards needed to safely operate locomotives and trains.
If adopted as proposed in today’s notice, the rule would be the first comprehensive revision of the locomotive engineer safety regulations since they became effective in 1991. The proposal is in FRA’s Docket No. RSOR-9, Notice 10. Interested parties who wish to comment on the proposal must do so within 60 days of its publication in the Federal Register.