CN’s signal waiver request is denied

Published: June 26, 2018

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ruled in favor of safe train operations in June by denying a request by Canadian National (CN) that sought a waiver allowing an extinguished intermediate signal aspect to provide a signal indication.

The SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Board filed comments in opposition to CN’s waiver request in a letter submitted in February.

“Apparently, CN seeks to avoid the expense of repairing and improving a defective signal system rather than recognizing the importance of a red signal aspect and the information that indication conveys to a train crew,” SMART TD Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy said in the letter. “CN’s application seeks to normalize a dangerous and non-compliant operating practice.”

FRA received numerous comments, including a joint submission by SMART TD’s National Legislative Department, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA), Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) and Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (TCU/IAM) in opposition to CN’s request, and it was announced June 25 that FRA sided with the opposition.

“Had (CN) been successful, this would have set a precedent and been a nightmare for train crews,” Qualy said. “This denial is also a very significant application denial that is in our favor.”

Qualy said SMART TD Local 1292 Legislative Representative Dan Archambeau and Local 1067 Legislative Representative Nick Katich and others were thanked by FRA officials for bringing the issue to the agency’s attention.

Earlier in the month, FRA denied a request by the Association of American Railroads to lengthen the amount of permissible off-air time from four to 24 hours for rail brake tests.