May 26, 2017: Wabtec to Provide PTC for SFRTA

Wabtec Corporation was awarded a $40 million contract to design, install, test, and commission Positive Train Control by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.
Wabtec will be providing Interoperable Electronic Train Management System for 42 locomotive and cab cars, a back office server, wayside communications and signals, dispatch system, training, and system integration. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Wabtec to Provide PTC for SFRTA

May 22, 2017: Survey of Plant and Insular Tourist Railroads Subject to FRA Bridge Safety Standards

Railroads serving plants and moving railroad equipment over bridges that are within the plant are asked to advise FRA by email or phone if there are railroad bridges within the plant that may be subject to FRA Bridge Safety Standards.
FRA has also requested it be notified by email or phone if insular tourist railroads have tracks that are supported by one or more bridges.
Interested parties may submit comments on this notice until July 21, 2017.

Docket No. FRA–2017–0002–N–15

May 17, 2017: Union Claims Cameras on Trains Violates Workers’ Privacy

A recent amendment to the Railway Safety Act mandates the installation of locomotive video and voice recorders and not everyone is happy about it. Railroad employees feel this equipment is a threat to their privacy and are concerned that the railway companies will have access to the recordings and can use it to conduct random samples to look for safety risks.
Union president Doug Finnson made it clear that the employees are unhappy about this amendment by saying “From the workers’ perspective, the government has abandoned them. “I’m particularly pissed at this.”
Transport Minister Marc Garneau responded to this concern by stating “There will be very defined times when these can be used and it’s in order to improve safety.” Mr. Finnson believes the government will not be able to control how railway companies use the information gathered from the LVVR equipment. “Transport Canada can’t enforce the regulations they have right now. I have absolutely no confidence in the employer adhering to any kinds of rules and regulations about access.”

Union claims legislation requiring video recording on trains violates workers’ privacy 

May 16, 2017: Canada’s Railways Support Mandatory Installation of Locomotive Voice and Video Recorders

Voice and video recorders will soon be installed on locomotives in Canada. Despite the privacy concerns of railroad employees, TSB and Transport Canada believe using locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVR) will enhance railroad safety. The data collected will be used by TSB for accident and incident investigations, federally regulated companies to conduct analysis through random sampling in order to identify safety concerns as part of ongoing safety management, and Transport Canada for policy development.
President and CEO of Railway Association of Canada, Michael Bourque, stated “We are very pleased with the provision on locomotive voice and video recorders, this technology is working to increase safety in other jurisdictions where it has been deployed. This requirement addresses a key Transportation Safety Board recommendation that has been on its Watchlist since 2012 ”


Canada’s railways support mandatory installation of locomotive voice and video recorders to increase safety

April 28, 2017: HELP Inc.’s PrePass Renewed as Endorsed ATA Featured Product

The American Trucking Association has renewed HELP Inc’s  PrePass services as an Endorsed ATA Featured Product. This allows more than a half a million commercial vehicles from qualified fleets to be pre-screened for federal and state regulatory compliance electronically. These vehicles will be able to continue driving without having to stop at weigh stations. This will save the company time, fuel, and money. PrePass has more than 300 sites in 32 states. It electronically screens the carrier’s safety records and credentials prior to them getting on the road.
Karen Rasmussen, HELP President and CEO, said “PrePass offers the nation’s only complete service for weigh station bypass, electronic toll payment, and safety data management. HELP’s technology leadership and the unmatched accuracy of its PrePass service are testament to why we have been named both and Endorsed ATA Featured Product and an ATA Corporate Partner.”

HELP Inc.’s PrePass Renewed as Endorsed ATA Featured Product

May 4, 2017: RSAC Meeting Has Been Rescheduled

The 57th meeting of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) that was originally scheduled for January 26, 2017 has been moved to May 25, 2017. Some of the topics that will be discussed during the meeting include status reports from the Engineering Task Force, FRA will present the Hazardous Materials Working Group recommendations to review portions of the HMR and ask for a vote at that time.
This meeting is open to the public, however, it is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Docket No. FRA–2000–7257, Notice No. 85


April 10, 2017: Penalties for Hazmat Breaches

Throughout 2016 PHMSA’s Office of Chief Counsel processed a total of 42 cases and 256 tickets. The total amount of fines that were issued as a result of the tickets and cases was $941,404.

Shenzhen Union Trading Co. was fined $66,537 for transporting fireworks without the proper approval and using an invalid EX number.

Airsplat was fined $19,584 for transporting liquefied petroleum gases without the proper labels and markings. It was also discovered that Airsplat failed to properly train their hazmat employees and maintain records of the training.

Vet Specialist, a Phillippines-based company, was fined $18,039 for transporting calcium carbide in packaging that did not meet the required standards, failing to label each package, and not maintaining the required shipping documents.

In June the FAA fined Amazon $350,000 after it was discovered that between February 2013 and September 2015 the company violated the hazardous materials regulations 24 times. Amazon has a history of problems with the FAA over shipping hazardous materials.
Amazon’s trouble didn’t end with the fine. The company was prosecuted and convicted in the United Kingdom when it was discovered that Amazon staff members in China, Romania, and India re-designated dangerous goods as non-dangerous goods so they could be sent via airmail without being subjected to the restricted shipping rules. The items in question were laptop computers containing lithium batteries and aerosol cans containing flammable gas propellants. During the course of the investigation, Royal Mail found 782 packages containing dangerous goods.

Penalties for Hazmat Breaches
(as reported by American Journal of Transportation)

May 1, 2017: Concerns Over ELD and Speed-Limiter Rules

Over a dozen trucking stakeholder groups worked together to submit a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao asking her to delay the implementation of the Electronic Logging Device and speed limiter rulings that are due to be in effect in December 2017. The letter explains that implementing ELD and speed limiters will cost the industry $2.845 billion.

ELD is primarily used by companies who are managing large fleets of vehicles as a way to monitor their productivity. The letter, in part, stated “While we are adamant the ELD mandate must be repealed, we are also concerned by serious complications associated with its implementation, which is currently scheduled for December 2017. We understand many significant technological concerns remain unresolved, including the certification of devices, connectivity problems in remote areas of the country, cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the ability of law enforcement to access information. For example, ELD manufacturers are currently able to self-certify technology without validation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), creating vast uncertainty within the regulated community. This uncertainty has forced many of our members to delay the purchase and installation of ELDs until they can be guaranteed the technology will be compliant“.

In September 2016 the Obama Administration disregarded numerous highway studies that proved the use of speed limiters on heavy vehicles would make the roads less safe for all drivers and released a proposed rule that would make them mandatory. Experts warn that states with speed limits that exceed the maximum level proposed by FMCSA will see an increase in traffic accidents due to the extreme speed differences between automobiles and heavy vehicles. More trucks will be needed to move the same amount of goods which in turn leads to an increase in highway congestion.

The letter concluded by saying “President Trump’s desire to create a regulatory environment that enables businesses of all sizes to grow is commendable and welcomed. However, to do so this administration must eliminate the most egregious regulations developed under the haphazard, one-size-fits-all approach to rulemaking embraced by its predecessor.
The delay and removal of the ELD mandate, as well as the elimination of the proposed speed limiter rule, will provide immediate and overdue regulatory relief to a wide variety of industries, allowing them to devote greater resources to growth. Of all the regulations your department will consider repealing under the Executive Order, none will have a greater positive impact on American businesses than these two costly and burdensome rules. We encourage you to prioritize the ELD mandate and proposed speed limiter rule when identifying regulations for elimination”.  

Letter to Secretary of Transportation
(as reported by NITL)