Federal agencies Rail Transportation

FRA again delays deadlines for railroads to submit safety training programs

train tracks

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Washington — The Federal Railroad Administration is pushing back another year the deadlines for rail industry employers, contractors and subcontractors to submit training programs for employees who perform “safety-related service,” according to a notice published in the April 27 Federal Register.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 defines a safety-related employee as one who is subject to FRA’s hours-of-service rules, as well as:

  • Another operating railroad employee who is not subject to HOS rules
  • One who maintains the right of way of a railroad
  • A hazmat employee
  • An employee who inspects, repairs or maintains locomotives, passenger cars or freight cars
  • Any other employee who “directly affects safety”

The agency first proposed a one-year delay in December in response to a petition from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. Employers with at least one safety-related worker must receive FRA approval for their programs and can submit optional model programs for immediate approval before May 1, 2019.

Qualifying employers with 400,000-plus total employee work hours annually are required to implement their training programs by Jan. 1, 2020. Employers who don’t reach that 400,000-hour mark are required to implement their programs by May 1, 2021.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 sought to establish minimum training requirements for all categories of employees, and FRA issued a required regulation in November 2014. That requirement to submit training programs was delayed for a year in May 2017. Most employers also are required to conduct periodic employee oversight and create annual written reviews of training programs.

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