Rail Legislation Hours of service

Stopped train prompts new hours-of-service proposal

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Washington – A lawmaker has proposed an hours-of-service exception that would prevent certain trains from blocking vehicles and emergency services personnel at railroad crossings.

Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced the legislation Sept. 18 after a train in his district blocked a state highway for five hours. The train had stopped and would not move any farther because the crew had reached its maximum hours of service and a new crew had yet to arrive, according to local reports.

The legislation would allow employees to remain on duty or go on duty beyond their hours-of-service requirements “to clear a blockage of vehicular traffic at a grade crossing.” Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sean Duffy (R-WI) co-sponsored the legislation.

“I recognize that the rail system is very complex and there are many factors that go into trains being held and crossings being blocked,” Petri said to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) in extended remarks that accompanied the bill. “But I still struggle with the fact that motorists, including emergency services, were forced to wait five hours for a train to move 50 feet.”