WASHINGTON, December 17, 2021 - ASLRRA submitted comments in response to the USDOT’s December 3, 2021, Notice of Request for Public Comment (“RFC”), soliciting input on the draft DOT strategic framework. In the comments, ASLRRA encouraged a) the use of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research Development & Technology to assist in advancing safety, b) to permit the use of eABS and AGTMS technology to increase fluidity in the supply chain, and c) engaging stakeholders in any regulatory action. ASLRRA also offered suggestions on grant program administration, including those recently made available in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
WASHINGTON, December 16, 2021 - ASLRRA filed comments on the Surface Transportation Board’s Docket EP 767, First-Mile/Last-Mile Service. ASLRRA responded to the three concerns put forth by the STB – seeking examples of FMLM issues, useful FMLM metrics, and data recording of FMLM issues. In conclusion, ASLRRA urged the Board not to require short line railroads to create systems to track and report uniform metrics, as it is not clear what metrics would be helpful, or the cost burden associated with the collection. Finally, it is not clear that there is a FMLM issue from short line customers, as short lines are ‘laser focused on providing excellent customer service’.
WASHINGTON, November 18, 2021 - ASLRRA and AAR filed an amicus brief supporting defendants BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Railroad Company in the case before the Unites States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The question before the DC Circuit is the proper scope of 49 USC 10706’s provision regarding admissibility of communications between railroads regarding interline traffic. The lower court ruling reflects a very restricted view of the protections afforded to railroads by the statute. The amicus brief seeks to educate the Court regarding the scope, importance and complexity of interline traffic, and the need for railroads to be able to communicate broadly and effectively with each other regarding that service in order to offer competitive transportation products.
WASHINGTON, November 17, 2021 - ASLRRA submitted comments for the record related to the United States House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure hearing on “Industry and Labor Perspectives: A Further Look at North American Supply Chain Challenges.” The comments outlined the short line industry’s vital contributions to North America’s supply chain and urged the Committee to avoid actions which would exacerbate supply chain problems, including efforts to increase truck size and weight, mandate crew sizes, or stifles the use of technology. ASLRRA encouraged the Committee to advance important funding opportunities such as CRISI that help short line freight railroads invest in infrastructure to continue to support efficiency and improvements to the U.S. supply chain.
WASHINGTON, November 11, 2021 - ASLRRA submitted comments for the record for the United States House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials hearing November 9, “Does Discrimination Exist in Federal Passenger Rail Contracting?” In the comments, ASLRRA expresses its strong support of the goals of the USDOT’s DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program, one of the topics raised in the Committee hearing. ASLRRA stated its eagerness to continue dialogue on the topic, discouraging any fixed dollar or percentage set-asides, and encouraged consideration of alternative solutions like improved resources, education and awareness for the program so that submissions for procurement opportunities are successful.
WASHINGTON, October 22, 2021 - ASLRRA joined AAR in filing this response to the FRA’s August 23, 2021 information request reflecting the agency’s renewal of a paperwork collections approval for locomotive safety standards (CFR 49 Part 229). The parties note that no regulation has changed, yet the report indicates a substantial reduction in time spent managing the regulation and the related paperwork (232,348 hours, while in 2018 OMB determined the collection burden for complying with essentially the same rules was 3,815,751 hours). The parties ask for an opportunity to review the data that supports the 94% reduction in the estimated burden. Absent that information, the AAR and ASLRRA call the proposed changes to the estimated burden capricious and arbitrary.
WASHINGTON, September 24, 2021 - ASLRRA and AAR filed supplemental comments in response to FRA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise 49 C.F.R. Part 232 to address the use of electronic air brake slips (“eABS”) to track mechanical inspections and freight car mileage. The associations reiterated and provided additional support for FRA’s action to modernize and improve its existing air brake inspection regulations and to implement certain proposals in AAR’s 2019 petition for rulemaking on the same topic. This rulemaking, if finalized, would move safety forward while also directly advancing climate and environmental goals.
WASHINGTON, September 3, 2021 - ASLRRA joined AAR in responding to an Environmental Protection Agency’s August 4 request for recommendations to Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Associations support a clear, common-sense approach to regulating features such as WOTUS, and support continuing the general exclusion for ditches as drafted in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. As the Agencies consider new approaches, the Associations request consideration for express exclusion of railroad ditches in any revised rule or implementing guidance.
WASHINGTON, September 2, 2021 - ASLRRA joined the AAR in filing comments on the Department of Energy’s July 26, 2021, “Notice of Inquiry on Preparation of Report to Congress on the Price-Anderson Act.” The Associations and their members urge the Department to continue the current Price-Anderson indemnification program without modification.
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2021 - ASLRRA provided comments in response to the rulemaking by the Utilities and Transportation Commission to implement House Bill (HB) 1841, Chapter 170 of the Laws of 2020, at WAC 480-62-255, “Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains.” ASLRRA previously provided comments on September 4, 2020 and December 18, 2020 in this proceeding. Unfortunately, the proposed regulations at WAC 480-62-255 suffer from the same deficiencies as HB 1841. Specifically, the text is preempted by the ICC Termination Act (ICCTA) and provides a disincentive to short line railroads to upgrade their infrastructure.
WASHINGTON, June 4, 2021 - ASLRRA and AAR filed comments in response to DOT’s notification of regulatory review regarding the consistency of existing regulations and other agency actions with the policies and objectives set forth in Executive Orders (“EO”) 13990 (‘‘Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis”) and 13992 (“Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation”). The Railroads took the opportunity to comment below on two recent rulemaking proceedings undertaken by DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that directly further climate and environmental goals described in EOs 13990 and 13992. The Railroads believe these rulemakings, “Brakes I” final rule and eABS NPRM, serve as examples of how regulatory modernization that facilitates greater efficiency can also deliver improvements in safety and environmental impact.
WASHINGTON, May 19, 2021 - ASLRRA joined AAR in submitting written comments in response to OSHA’s February 16, 2021, notice of proposed rulemaking to revise its hazard communication standard at 29 C.F.R. Part 1910. The parties urged OSHA to clarify that the proposed rule change is not intended to place additional regulatory requirements on railroads. The safe transportation of hazardous material via rail is already prescribed by the HMTA and the relevant PHMSA regulations. For purposes of consistency, compliance, and safety, DOT’s existing regulations should continue to govern all aspects of railroads’ transportation of hazmat.
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2021 - ASLRRA filed written comments regarding the State of Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission's ("Commission") Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NOPR"), outlining concerns with the breadth of the proposed rules, the Commission's regulatory authority in general, and the viability of the proposed rules as it relates to federal preemption, judicial review, and/or agency review. In addition, ASLRRA questions if the proposed Rule would result in safety improvements. ASLRRA offered several changes to the rule and suggested partnering with FRA’s Rail State Safety Participation Program as an alternative to the proposed civil penalties.
WASHINGTON, May 14, 2021 - Today, ASLRRA and AAR are submitting the attached comments in response to the Federal Highway Administration’s December 14, 2020, notice of proposed amendments (“NPA”) to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). Our comments focus on the grade crossing-related provisions of the NPA, aiming to further ongoing safety improvements. The railroads specifically emphasize the revised MUTCD should involve grade crossing diagnostic teams that include railroad representatives in evaluating and determining appropriate safety measures at highway-rail grade crossings.
WASHINGTON, May 11, 2021 - Chuck Baker testified on behalf of short line railroads before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports during a hearing, “Freight Mobility: Strengthening America’s Supply Chains and Competitiveness.” Baker outlined the key features of short line railroads and their contributions to a safe, competitive, and environmentally-friendly U.S. transportation system. Finally, he provided some guidance on policies that would enhance those benefits as part of a transportation or reauthorization bill.
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2021 - ASLRRA joined AAR in providing comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”), Framework for Automated Driving System Safety, addressing Automated Driving System (“ADS”) safety for motor vehicles. ASLRRA/AAR requested that all DOT agencies take a consistent approach toward safety advancements and technological innovation related to the development of autonomous technology across the various modes of transportation, including for railroads. Not only will the public benefit from technology-driven safety gains in rail and other industries, but a mode-neutral approach will ensure a level playing field among all transportation options. Additionally, ASLRRA/AAR commented that, to maximize the safety benefits of ADS technology, it must be designed to recognize all highway-rail grade crossings and respond appropriately to all active and passive grade crossing warning devices and approaching trains.
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2021 - ASLRRA joined AAR in providing comments to FRA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to revise 49 CFR Part 232, addressing the use of electronic airbrake slips to track mechanical inspections and freight car mileage. ASLRRA supports FRA’s action to modernize and improve its existing air brake inspection regulations and to implement certain proposals in AAR’s 2019 petition for rulemaking on the same topic. The NPRM proposals would not only increase the efficiency of railroad operations, but would advance railroad safety, reduce injury exposure to railroad employees, and result in significant climate, economic, and other societal benefits.
WASHINGTON, March 10, 2021 - Caren Kraska, President and Chairman of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad (A&M), testified before the House T & I Subcommittee Hearing, “Full Steam Ahead for Rail: Why Rail is More Relevant Than Ever for Economic and Environmental Progress”. Her testimony included commentary on the nature of short line railroads, the economic and societal benefits of short line freight rail, and provided a number of suggestions for upcoming transportation funding bills.
WASHINGTON, February 22, 2021 - ASLRRA filed comments generally in support of FRA’s proposed rulemaking on Fatigue Management (Docket No. FRA 2015-0122). ASLRRA also provided feedback on four items: more time is required for development and submission of fatigue management plans; workers not employed by railroad carriers should not be included in the plan requirements; FRA’s statement regarding widespread napping policies is overbroad; and more time is required to develop and conduct fatigue plans and training. Please note that only short line railroads deemed to be “inadequate safety performers” by FRA would be required to submit a fatigue management plans as part of a Risk Reduction Program.
WASHINGTON, February 22, 2021 - ASLRRA has filed a Reply to comments made regarding STB Docket EP 704 (sub-1), stating that while the shipper comments generally opposed the proposed new approach, there were a few points that merited a Reply from ASLRRA on behalf of short lines. ASLRRA submitted comments to this docket on January 29, 2021. ASLRRA is opposed to the adoption of the proposed methodology.