Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Batory’

John Risch: FRA, Trump administration halt all crew safety efforts

Dear SMART TD,

Today the Trump administration did everything it could to stop all railroad crew safety issues.

In a Federal Register posting published at 4 p.m. today, the FRA formally withdrew the pending proposed rulemaking dating from 2016 that would have set a mandatory crew size on freight and passenger trains.

Withdrawal of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Train Crew Staffing | Federal Railroad Administration

But the notice went much further than that. It announced that not only will FRA turn a blind eye to the unsafe practices of single-person or no-person trains, the agency claims that its notice also nullifies all state laws and regulations that establish minimum crew standards.

President Donald Trump, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and FRA Administrator Ron Batory have taken sides, and it’s with the railroads that want to eliminate operating crew members to the detriment of rail safety and to the detriment of the communities through which our members operate trains. We are considering legal action and other avenues to protect our members and the American public from the prospects of driverless trains.

The action today flies in the face of so-called conservative values and state’s rights. The federal government is refusing to protect the public and at the same time is prohibiting states from doing so by posting this federal notice.

This action undermines my faith in the FRA in being a fair and impartial overseer of safety in the railroad industry. Clearly, the railroad CEOs have their folks in power with President Trump and his administration. This action should put an end to any thoughts that this president and this administration is supportive of railroad workers.

It is now more important than ever that we pass a federal law requiring that every train in America have a minimum of two crew members. Those two crew members must be a federally certified conductor and a federally certified locomotive engineer.

It’s time to not only send an email message to your member of Congress, but it is time for every operating railroad worker to contact their member of Congress personally. Call their offices and ask to meet with them today.

We will not be stopped by today’s terrible decision. It makes us more committed than ever to pass a federal two-person crew law.

In solidarity,

John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

FRA declares emergency because of Midwest flooding

Pursuant to Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 211.45, Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Ronald L. Batory has determined that the extreme flooding currently occurring throughout the Midwest United States constitutes an “emergency event” as related to railroad operations.

In making this determination, the Administrator notes that the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for areas throughout the Midwest and documented historic flooding throughout the region with rivers rising to historic levels in over 40 locations, causing power outages and breached dams and levees. The large amounts of snow and ice resulting from the region’s recent winter weather have melted and swelled rivers, creeks and other inland bodies of water throughout the region.

The Administrator also notes that a multitude of local governments have declared emergencies related to the flooding. Therefore, the Administrator has activated the Emergency Relief Docket (FRA-2019-0001) as of March 19, 2019 and the emergency relief provisions of 49 CFR § 211.45 are in effect.

FRA issues national trespass prevention strategy

WASHINGTON – The U.S Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued to Congress the first National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property. The report examines the causal factors that contribute to trespassing incidents on railroad property, and responds to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations request.

“Almost every trespasser death or injury is preventable and FRA is working to intensify our efforts,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “Now that we have examined current data on contributing factors of the problem, we are seeking to energize our state and local partners to implement solutions and save lives.”

In the report, the FRA examined trespasser casualties over a four-year period (Nov. 2013 to Oct. 2017) and identified the top 10 counties in the United States where the most pedestrian trespasser casualties occurred (Los Angeles, Calif.; Cook (Chicago), Ill.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Harris (Houston), Texas; Broward, Fla.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Fresno, Calif.; Riverside, Calif.; Contra Costa, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.). The report shows that, excluding suicides, 4,242 pedestrians were killed or injured while trespassing on railroad property nationwide during this time period.

Preventing trespasser casualties and injuries is a high priority for FRA as part of the Department’s safety mission. In October 2018, FRA convened a Trespasser & Grade Crossing Fatality Prevention Summit at its headquarters in Washington, DC. Secretary Chao, Administrator Batory, representatives from other DOT modal administrations, and key stakeholders from the rail industry, law enforcement, and the navigation industry attended the meeting to discuss strategies to reduce grade crossing and trespasser fatalities, as well as to solicit ideas to develop and implement a comprehensive national plan and strategy. FRA looks forward to coordinating and working with all stakeholders to prevent trespassing incidents, and this report is an important step forward in the continued effort to improve rail safety.

FRA’s national strategy to prevent trespassing on railroad property includes four strategic focus areas: data gathering and analysis, community site visits, funding and partnerships with stakeholders.

Data gathering and analysis of trespass incidents and close-calls will enable FRA to target its resources to trespassing “hot spots.” Conducting community site visits will help FRA to learn more about the specific local circumstances that contribute to trespassing and work with partners to help implement and evaluate targeted mitigation strategies. Requesting and providing funding will support community-based efforts to deter trespassing. Finally, building strong and enduring partnerships with communities, law enforcement, railroads and other organizations with a shared interest in saving lives will enable FRA to leverage and concentrate available resources, expertise and local knowledge to combat trespassing.

Short term targets for success include stakeholder engagement and implementation of strategies that save lives at trespassing “hot spots.” Over the long term, FRA will measure the success of this national strategy by how much trespassing incidents and casualties are reduced nationwide.

To access the full report, click here.