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FRA final rule revises locomotive engineer certification requirements

CLEVELAND, January 25 — The Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule on December 31, 2009 addressing miscellaneous revisions to 49 CFR Part 240. The rule will take effect on February 22, 2010.

“The amendments in this final rule represent another incremental improvement in our certification rules,” BLET National President Paul Sorrow said. “The changes are an improvement in ensuring due process for our members. Overall these changes are a positive step for our membership by providing clearer and more reasonable protections from abusive carriers.”

Highlights of the revisions include the following:

-- FRA has amended § 240.107 to expressly prohibit the practice of reclassifying any type of engineer’s certification to a more restrictive class or certificate while the certification is otherwise valid.

-- FRA has amended §240.127 & § 240.129 to require that each railroad identify the potential actions it may take in the event that a person fails a skills performance test or that the railroad finds deficiencies with an engineer’s performance during a operational monitoring observation or unannounced ride. FRA also requires that each railroad describe the scoring systems it uses to determine the locomotive engineers skills during an operational monitoring observation or a performance and unannounced tests.

-- FRA has amended § 240.307 to reinforce that a revocation may only occur for reasons specified in the regulation, after at least one railroad believed that the regulations allowed it to revoke certification when it believed the engineer no longer met the qualification requirements of the Part 240, even for incidents not involving a cardinal sin. One commenter argued, for example, that a locomotive engineer could have his certification revoked for reasons such as a violation of Emergency Order 26 (cell phone ban).

In the final rule, the FRA indicated that it expects to review Part 240 and possibly make additional revisions to the certification rules as a result of the conductor certification RSAC process.

For a PDF copy of the final rule, go to:

Monday, January 25, 2010

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