WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2023 - The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), on behalf of itself and its member railroads, petitions the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for a 60-day extension of the time to submit comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in Docket No. PHMSA-2016-0015 (HM-263): Hazardous Materials: FAST Act Requirements for Real-Time Train Consist Information. ASLRRA stated that the ruling will have substantial impact on small business railroads, and the additional time will enable the Association to gather adequate information in order to respond.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2023 - ASLRRA submitted a response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Request for Information (RFI) on the potential uses and options for disposal or repurposing used creosote-treated railroad ties (“CTRT”s), which are the wooden rail crossties that support the rail track. ASLRRA supports efforts to find alternative options to keep CTRTs out of landfills by amending the legitimacy criteria in 40 C.F.R. Part 241 and the definition of Paper Recycling Residuals to allow for CTRTs to be used for energy production.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2023 —ASLRRA joined Association of America Railroads in filing comments to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) on Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus. The Notice proposes to amend 49 CFR part 227 to include requirements for the provision of emergency escape breathing apparatus (EEBA) when there are railroad personnel occupying a locomotive cab of a freight train transporting a hazardous material that would pose an inhalation hazard in the event of release during an accident.
The filed comments cite multiple issues that remain inadequately unaddressed in the proposal including the lack of safety benefit justifying this rule, fully accounting for costs associated with program management, insufficient time for compliance for Class II railroads, and burdens small railroads. In addition, the comments note that the FRA has exceeded the congressional directives of rulemaking provided in section 413 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA). The AAR filed comments on the initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in 2010.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2023 - ASLRRA has petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a 60-day extension of the time to submit comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in Docket No. FRA-2022-0019: Certification of Dispatchers. As written this proposed rule would have a significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses. Extending the comment period will provide time for ASLRRA to thoroughly obtain and review feedback from its member railroads in order to respond to the NPRM's assumptions and provide FRA with data to perform a meaningful regulatory flexibility analysis as required by the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2023 - ASLRRA has petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a 60-day extension of the time to submit comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in Docket No. FRA-2022-0019: Certification of Signal Employees. As written this proposed rule would have a significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses. Extending the comment period will provide time for ASLRRA to thoroughly obtain and review feedback from its member railroads in order to respond to the NPRM’s assumptions and provide FRA with data to perform a meaningful regulatory flexibility analysis as required by the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2023 - ASLRRA joined AAR in submitting comments on EPA's April 27, 2023, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3" (EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0985; FRL-8952-01-OAR) ("Proposed Rule") that proposes revisions to its existing locomotive preemption regulation implementing Section 209(e) of the Clean Air Act. The Associations note that the freight rail system is not only connected tracks, but utilizes "locomotive run-through interoperability," allowing locomotives owned by one freight company to be run over rails owned by another. EPA's pivot to a case-by-case approach to waiver requests for non-new locomotives/engines does not work within the statute, which prohibits EPA from granting waivers to states seeking to regulate non-new locomotives or non-new locomotive engines in a manner that would significantly affect the design and manufacture of new locomotives or new locomotive engines.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2023 - ASLRRA submitted comments in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”)’s April 27, 2023, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3”. In addition to the issue raised in the joint comments submitted in this matter, ASLRRA states that the locomotive preemption provisions in this rulemaking have the potential to impact 93% of the locomotives owned by the approximately 600 short line railroads. ASLRRA notes that the agency declined to provide regulatory relief or consider less burdensome alternatives for small businesses as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (“RFA”), as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (“SBREFA”). Further, the RFA, as amended by SBREFA, also requires the EPA to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review (“SBAR”) panel for most proposed rules unless the agency can certify that a rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In its comments, ASLRRA calls upon the EPA to convene a SBAR.
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2023 – ASLRRA presented testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials in a hearing entitled, “Getting Back on Track: Exploring Rail Supply Chain Resilience and Challenges.” In his testimony, Chuck Baker detailed the essential nature of short lines in the U.S. freight rail system, and to the U.S. supply chain, and presented eleven areas where Congress could act that would both enhance the supply chain and advance safety in our industry.
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2023 – ASLRRA submitted a statement for the record for Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing titled "Improving Rail Safety in Response to the East Palestine Derailment." ASLRRA's comments make a distinction between Class I freight railroads and the short line industry. The Association also points out the strong safety records of short lines and cautions against the current effort to pursue a broad range of regulatory measures in reaction to the East Palestine accident, and provides some guidance on policies focused on safety that may make sense in the wake of the derailment.
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2023 – ASLRRA and the California Short Line Railroad Association (CSLRA) submitted comments before California Air Resources Board on proposed in-use locomotive regulation.
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2023 – ASLRRA submitted an Amicus Brief in support of the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, LLC (appellant). Among other arguments in the initial proceeding, the plaintiff (who did track construction work for MCR) argues that he should have been paid according to the state’s Prevailing Wage Act. ASLRRA argues that this claim is preempted by federal law.
WASHINGTON, February 1, 2023 – ASLRRA submitted joint comments with AAR in response to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) requesting input regarding how the pipeline and rail sectors implement cyber risk management (“CRM”) in their operations and will support TSA in achieving objectives related to the enhancement of pipeline and rail cybersecurity. The associations advocated that any regulations in this area should be performance-based, should differentiate rail from other modes of transportation, should be harmonized with other agencies, and the regulations should work as a partnership with the existing robust industry effort in cyber risk management.
WASHINGTON, December 21, 2022 – ASLRRA filed comments in response to Docket No. Fra-2021-0032: Train Crew Size Safety Requirements. The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposes a minimum requirement of two crewmembers for most railroad operations and requires that the second crewmember be physically located on the train, typically in the locomotive cab. ASLRRA argued that the short line industry will be immediately and dramatically harmed by this rulemaking and urged the FRA to withdraw the rulemaking or completely exempt short line railroads from any minimum crew size and location mandate. Via survey and analysis, ASLRRA has documented that 414 short lines, not the FRA-estimated nine, would be impacted.
WASHINGTON, December 19, 2022 – ASLRRA filed comments on December 19, 2022 in STB Docket No. FD 36397: Wisconsin Central, LTD. – Petition for Declaratory Order – Interchange with SOO Line Railroad Company. This proceeding comes from a prior STB determination, which was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, involving one rail carrier unilaterally wishing to change an interchange location. The Board invited interested parties to provide input regarding the potential impacts of different approaches to enable the Board to make an informed decision on interchange rules. ASLRRA provided comments that, in the experience of short lines, most instances involving one party wishing to alter an interchange point are resolved through informal negotiation, which should continue to be the norm.
WASHINGTON, November 30, 2022 – The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, on behalf of itself and its member railroads, and the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, on behalf of itself and its contractor members, submit comments in response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend its regulation on Training, Qualification, and Oversight for Safety-Related Railroad Employees to codify agency guidance and clarify existing requirements.
WASHINGTON, November 7, 2022 – ASLRRA and NRC jointly filed comments urging the Federal Railroad Administration to use the longstanding and well-defined precedent set by the Railroad Retirement Board (“RRB”) to include only contractors performing the role of conductors, locomotive engineers, and dispatchers as ‘directly affected employees.’ Moreover, the parties noted the reference to a “significant portion of a railroad’s operations,” does not provide the regulatory certainty small businesses need to aid their compliance with regulatory obligations.
WASHINGTON, November 7, 2022 – In comments in response to the California Air Resource Board (CARB)’s Proposed In-Use Locomotive Regulation, ASLRRA advocated that CARB should withdraw the rule or exclude short line railroads. The proposed rule is exempted by federal law and the proposed requirements threaten the economic viability of short line railroads in the state.
WASHINGTON, October 31, 2022 – ASLRRA joined 17 other entities in encouraging the EPA to suspend the rulemaking process to allow OSHA’s review of the PSM standard to advance ahead of any major revisions to the RMP. In addition, the comments outline seven areas of concern for the Agency to consider.
WASHINGTON, August 12, 2022 – ASLRRA provided comments in response to the Department of Transportation’s request for information regarding “Construction Materials Used in Federal Financial Assistance Projects for Transportation Infrastructure in the United States under the Build America, Buy America Act.” ASLRRA expressed support for many of the instructions outlined, and encouraged the DOT to work closely with the Small Business Administration to consider exceptions. Further, ASLRRA provided seven examples of areas, common to rail operations, that should be considered for waivers, urging that waivers be judiciously granted, including general applicability waivers where appropriate, to railroads relying on federal funding for purchasing under programs such as CRISI.
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2022 - ASLRRA submitted comments for the record outlining the many ways that ASLRRA supports its members in enhancing safety practices and advocates for the industry on Capitol Hill and with regulating bodies to advance safety rules and regulations with known safety benefits and to foster – not hinder – technology and operational practices that improve rail safety.
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2022 - ASLRRA provided a written response to the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission's rulemaking seeking to implement House Bill 1841, "Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains," urging the Commission to withdraw its rulemaking. ASLRRA stated that the rulemaking is preempted by the ICC Termination Act of 1995, and detailed additional concerns with the rulemaking for short line railroads. ASLRRA member Genesee & Wyoming also submitted comments on behalf of its three short line railroads in the state.
WASHINGTON, April, 2022 - ASLRRA filed supplemental comments with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address a line of questioning brought up by STB Chair Martin Oberman and board member Patrick Fuchs during a hearing discussing the STB’s proposed reciprocal switching rule. Oberman and Fuchs asked what percentage of freight rail industry traffic would be excluded from the proposed reciprocal switching rule if, as ASLRRA prefers, short lines continue to be exempt from the switching regulation. ASLRRA estimates about 10 percent of traffic volume would not be subject to a reciprocal switching mandate if short line traffic were excluded from the rule, which means excluding small railroads from reciprocal switching rules would affect only a small percentage of total railroad freight traffic. The Association’s STB Working Group will continue to monitor this potential rule and advocate firmly for short line interests in this matter.
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2022 - On January 28, 2022, EPA published a notification of tentative response to the December 7, 2018 petition for rulemaking from ASLRRA, AAR, the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), the Treated Wood Council (TWC), and the American Wood Council (AWC). The petition requested the following amendments to the non-hazardous secondary material (NHSM) regulations: (1) Change from mandatory to ‘‘should consider’’ the legitimacy criterion for comparison of contaminants in the NHSM to the traditional fuel the unit is designed to burn found at 40 CFR 241.3(d)(1)(iii); (2) remove associated designed to burn and other limitations for creosote-treated railroad ties found at 40 CFR 241.4(a)(7)–(a)(10); and (3) revise the definition of paper recycling residuals (PRR) that can be burned as non-waste found at 40 CFR 241.2 to remove the limit on non-fiber materials. The Associations oppose EPA’s Proposed Denial and ask EPA to reconsider its flawed decision. Read Attachment A and Attachment B.
WASHINGTON – March 17, 2022 – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) revised its regulations governing railroad workplace safety to allow for the use of alternative cybersecurity standards for electronic display systems used to view track authority information for roadway worker safety, and to exempt certain remotely operated roadway maintenance machines from existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) requirements for enclosed cabs. ASLRRA submitted comments on February 9, 2021, with AAR, supporting the proposed changes. This final rule codified a longstanding waiver that had been granted to ASLRRA associate member, Harsco Track Technologies, for a roadway maintenance machine (RMM) designed to function without a dedicated operator located on the machine. Railroads have safely operated equipment subject to this waiver since 2008.
WASHINGTON, March 15 and 16 - ASLRRA submitted comments and written testimony to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for a hearing concerning Docket No. EP 711 (Sub-No. 1), which is a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on reciprocal switching first introduced in 2016. Baker testified at the meeting on behalf of short line railroads. He was joined by David Clarke, retired director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Doc Claussen, chairman of ASLRRA's Board of Directors and vice president of ASLRRA member Gulf and Ohio Railways. The speakers will express opposition to the proposed reciprocal switching rules, arguing that such regulations stand to make freight railroading less efficient, complicate routing and decrease rail network infrastructure investments. If the Board does create such a rule, the rule should fully exclude all traffic served by short lines. Baker provided an overview of the short line position, Clarke discussed the unique economics of short lines and explain to the board how mandated reciprocal switching would adversely affect small railroads, while Claussen added a first-hand account of the how short lines go above and beyond to achieve success for customers and thus a forced switching rule is not needed.
WASHINGTON – March 8. ASLRRA submitted comments in response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Request for Information (RFI) regarding the Corridor Identification and Development Program.
The program “creates a new framework to facilitate the development of new, enhanced, and restored intercity passenger rail corridors throughout the country.” In its comments, ASLRRA emphasizes that some of the Association’s short line members successfully host passenger rail service now, while others would welcome collaborative conversations about hosting new or expanded passenger services.
ASLRRA cautions, however, that any new proposals should address potential impacts, and the Association suggests certain principles be followed to best evaluate potential new or expanded passenger rail operations on host short line railroads. The principles focus on safety, access and capacity, full compensation and risk mitigation and a customized approach.
WASHINGTON, March 7 - ASLRRA sent a letter this week to several federal agency leaders with suggestions for minor changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) implementing regulations at 23 CFR Part 771. In January, several short line industry officials and ASLRRA staff participated in a virtual roundtable with Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose, Surface Transportation Board Chairman Martin Oberman, and Ports Envoy John Porcari and their respective staffs. During that call, several ideas for addressing supply chain congestion were raised and discussed. After the call, the Federal Railroad Administration welcomed subsequent ideas and feedback, which prompted ASLRRA’s recent letter. The Association believes the changes presented in the letter could help expedite FRA-funded projects that impact supply chain congestion.
WASHINGTON, March 4 - ASLRRA submitted comments responding to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Request for Information (RFI) concerning the department’s ongoing research plan. The Association addressed three questions in the RFI. ASLRRA urged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to pursue the Transportation Research Board’s truck size and weight research plan, which contains 27 projects to determine the various impacts of raising the status quo weight and lengths of commercial trucks. ASLRRA also urged research on rail geographic information system (GIS) data, suggested further DOT and Department of Energy (DOE) collaboration on locomotive emission reduction, and commended FRA’s efforts on the Broad Agency Announcement research funding program. ASLRRA has applied for a research grant through this program and hopes to be funded soon.
WASHINGTON, February 17, 2022 - ASLRRA filed a response to shippers and shipper groups comments to the STB's September 2, 2021 invitation to respond to EP 767, regarding first-mile/last-mile ("FMLM") service. ASLRRA collected information on how some short line railroads capture service data and are responsive to customer concerns. We found that there is no single metric or set of metrics or data reporting process that would make sense for the STB to mandate of 600 different small business short lines. Overall, short lines are very responsive to their customers and quickly address any identified service issues, particularly in the provision of FMLM services.
WASHINGTON, February 15 - ASLRRA President Chuck Baker testified at a virtual Surface Transportation Board (STB) hearing regarding an application by Amtrak to be allowed to operate passenger trains on CSX and Norfolk Southern lines between New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama. In his testimony, Baker offered support for new passenger operations, and offered some strategies to ensure each new opportunity is individually reviewed, rather than having a one-size-fits-all process. He also discussed ways potential impacts to the national freight rail system could be thoroughly explored and addressed before allowing new or expanded passenger services. Such impacts would include infrastructure investments that might be needed to comply with regulations, and to mitigate potential harm to the overall fluidity of the line and service to current freight rail customers. Watch Baker’s testimony on YouTube here.
WASHINGTON, January 26, 2022 - ASLRRA joined AAR and APTA responding to OSHA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing heat-related injuries and illnesses. The parties noted that Federal Railroad Administration has long collected and evaluated heat-related injury/illness data and effectively addresses the concerns raised in the ANPRM. Pursuant to longstanding jurisdictional precedents governing the federal safety regulation of railroad operations, OSHA should exclude railroads from this proceeding and instead permit FRA to continue to regulate temperature- and weather- related safety considerations unique to railroad operations and occupations. See, e.g., 1978 FRA & OSHA Policy Statement, 43 Fed. Reg. 10,583 (Mar. 14, 1978).
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.