Federal agencies Rail Transportation

FRA to railroads: Train and certify dispatchers and signal workers

Photo: Ron Bouwhuis/gettyimages

Washington — Railroads must develop certification and training programs for train dispatchers and signal employees, under new Federal Railroad Administration final rules.

FRA says the new rules close a gap: Unlike other rail workers such as conductors and locomotive engineers, dispatchers and signal employees hadn’t been subject to mandatory, specific training requirements; safety and knowledge checks; and safety record verifications.

The certification programs, which will have to be submitted to FRA for approval, will evaluate the knowledge and skills of dispatchers and signal employees, along with their previous safety records.

Both rules are set to go into effect July 22. Class I railroads will have no more than eight months to submit their written programs, while those in Class II and III must submit programs within 16 months.

The rules continue FRA’s efforts to increase rail safety and increase protections for rail workers and communities. In April, FRA published a final rule regarding train crew size safety requirements.

“Railroading has become an increasingly complex and demanding line of work,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said in a May 20 press release, “as employees must learn and adapt to new technologies and computerized systems, and as continuing workforce reductions have placed a greater responsibility on current and new workers.”

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