FRA denies UP request to inspect trains in Mexico

Ruling represents major victory for Rail Labor; BLET provides evidence key to FRA decision

The Union Pacific's request to inspect safety critical equipment on its trains in Mexico was denied on December 17 by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The Union Pacific sought a waiver that would have allowed inspection and tests of its locomotives to be performed by employees of Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM). The waiver, if granted by the FRA, would have allowed the TFM railroad to inspect the equipment and fulfill the requirements of "Pre-Departure Inspection," "229.21 Locomotive Daily Inspection," "End-of-Train Device Testing and Inspection," and the all important, "Initial Terminal Class I Brake Test." The trains then would have been allowed to move into the U.S. for a distance of up to 1,000 miles before receiving another inspection.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) testified against the Union Pacific's request at an FRA public hearing in Washington, D.C., on October 1.

During the hearing, Terry Briggs, Chairman of the BLET's Texas State Legislative Board, testified that training materials provided to Mexican employees were faulty. In some cases, Briggs said, the translated material was not a direct translation of 49 CFR 232, 215, 229 and 231, portions of the Code of Federal Regulations that govern locomotive inspections. In addition, Briggs provided evidence that in some cases text was omitted or deleted, ranging from single words to entire sections numbering 20 or 30 pages.

The FRA cited the incorrect documents as one of the four main reasons for rejecting the Union Pacific's waiver request. Other reasons for rejecting the UP request include:

In this regard, commenters called attention to safety problems recently evidenced on UP's Southern Region, contending in effect that this calls into question UP's ability to manage this relationship."

BLET National President Don Hahs called the favorable ruling a victory for rail labor and thanked Brother Briggs and Brother Bob Harvey, the BLET's Regulatory Research Coordinator, for delivering critical testimony and evidence.



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen