Posts Tagged ‘rail track signal system’

CN’s signal waiver request is denied

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.

Rail coalition rallies; FRA denies CSX bid to remove track signals

A collective of rail unions and Michigan citizens lobbied the FRA to deny a CSX request that would discontinue use of vital safety signals along a busy freight rail line in Michigan – and won.

SMART Transportation Division, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen,  Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen successfully rallied the FRA to block CSX’s bid to discontinue the traffic control system (TCS) along the Michigan rail line that connects Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit.

Click here to read FRA’s letter of denial to CSX.

SMART leads coalition to stop CSX from removing MI track signals

On Friday, October 14, 2016, SMART Union united with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), in a joint statement to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that voiced their collective opposition to a recent CSX petition requesting permission from the FRA to remove approximately 125 signals from a stretch of track in Michigan.

Citing reasons of crew safety and public safety, SMART Transportation Division (SMART TD) President, John Previsich and SMART TD Michigan State Legislative Director, Jerry Gibson, worked with SMART and SMART TD’s legislative offices and and leaders from the BLET, BWED and BRS in requesting that the FRA deny CSX’s request.

“Considering the number of residents, homes, schools and churches along this line, and the safety risk involved if these signals are removed, we oppose this request and ask the FRA to deny this wavier,” stated SMART Transportation Division President, John Previsich.

Gibson emphasized safety concerns and also connected the dots between the outcome of the presidential election and future decisions made by the FRA and other president-appointed federal industry boards.

“The SMART TD Michigan State Legislative Board opposition is based on the reason signal systems are put into place: Employee and public safety. As a former qualified engineer and conductor on this line, the territory has a winding path with poor long distance sightlines, making the operable signal system that is currently in place critical to crew and public safety.

“While many may not see the direct correlation between this issue and voting for those candidates endorsed by the SMART TD National Legislative office and State boards, it is a great example. The President of the United States appoints the Director of the Federal Railroad Administration, Surface Transportation Board, Railroad Retirement Board, Department of Labor, and Department of Transportation, to name a few – all of which have the power to determine if these requests are approved or denied,” he stated.

Gibson also added: “If we cast our vote in the wrong direction, the outcome of many issues that directly affect rail labor and their families with be compromised,”

To read the joint labor statement to the FRA, please click here.