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FRA offers remote control guidelines based on 49 CFR 240

CLEVELAND, March 11, 2002 -- The Federal Railroad Administration has produced basic guidelines that apply Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 240 to the operation of remote control locomotives.

“The safe handling of remote control locomotives is very important to all rail employees and the general public,” said BLE International President Don M. Hahs. “We believe our members are the most qualified railroad employees to handle the movement of locomotives safely.”

The FRA’s interpretation of Title 49 CFR Part 240 is published below.

Applicability of Part 240 to Remote Control Locomotive Training and Operations

The purpose of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 240 -- Qualifications and Certification of Locomotive Engineers, is to ensure that only qualified persons operate a locomotive or train. The following is a brief description of the significant individual responsibilities under this regulation:

Railroad Responsibilities
Training -- The training must permit the student to experience whatever variety of types of trains that are normally operated by the railroad. See Section 240.123(c)(5)(iii). The student should be trained on rail movements he or she would expect to find in their assigned duties. For example, the remote control operator (RCO) student handles small drafts of cars during training and then, after certification, is required to handle large drafts of cars double or triple the tonnage. This would not be considered by FRA to be acceptable training. Additionally, if a railroad’s training program requires a student to fulfill 40 hours of on-the-job training, those 40 hours should be spent conducting actual locomotive operations. Merely, standing in the field watching others operate is not acceptable hands-on training.

Skills Performance Testing -- The testing procedures selected by the railroad shall be designed to examine the person’s skills when performing the most demanding class or type of service that the person will be permitted to perform. See Section 240.127 (c)(1). The RCO students must be tested handling the largest, heaviest drafts of cars they would be expected to handle during their assigned duties.

Prohibited Conduct -- It is unlawful for railroads to require engineers (RCOs) to exceed certification limitations. See Section 240.305 (c).

Employee Responsibilities

Prohibited Conduct -- Any locomotive engineer (RCO) who is notified or called to operate a locomotive or train and such operations would cause the locomotive engineer (RCO) to exceed certification limitations, shall immediately notify the railroad that he or she is not qualified to perform that anticipated service. See Section 240.305 (c). For example, if the train consist greatly exceeds the number of cars the RCO was trained to handle, then the RCO is not qualified to perform that duty. If a RCO only receives training to handle small drafts of cars at restricted speed in the yard and is then instructed to leave the yard and retrieve a train expired under the Hours of Service Act, additional train handling and physical characteristics training may be required to qualify for this task.

FRA Responsibilities

Enforcement of Regulations -- When notified of potential or actual violations, FRA will take appropriate enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the regulation. Enforcement action may be taken against the railroad, the employee, or both, depending upon the involvement and degree of culpability of the various parties.

Monday, March 11, 2002

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