Posts Tagged ‘Train’

DOT’s new drug-testing protocols are in effect

In November, the federal Department of Transportation finalized a rule that added four semi-synthetic opioids – hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone – to its testing regimen, despite opposition from a number of unions. Brand names of some of those opioids include OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid and Exalgo.

Effects of this expansion, which took effect Jan. 1, as reported by the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO (TTD) include:

  • Employees who are tested for these drugs and cannot offer a legitimate medical explanation such as a prescription will be recorded as testing positive.
  • Employees who have a valid prescription and test positive will have their results downgraded to a negative.
  • Medical review officers (MROs) cannot deny the legitimacy of a prescription for the purpose of establishing a legitimate medical explanation for the positive test. However, the MRO retains the right to flag safety concerns.
  • Clarification of what a “valid prescription” is, especially regarding medication given to take “as needed” as opposed to one prescribed to be taken in a strict time frame is needed and could be affected by the discretion of the MRO.
  • The rule establishes three new “fatal flaws” to a test: 1. Absence of a Chain of Custody Form (CCF); 2. A specimen is not submitted along with the CCF; and 3. Two separate collections are performed using a single CCF.

Comments from the TTD opposed the cutoff levels established for a positive test, requested additional training for MROs, sought clearer guidelines to define what constituted a valid prescription and implementation of a process to challenge the findings of an MRO.  These suggestions were disregarded. In addition, the DOT also ended its blind specimen testing program over the TTD’s objection.

Members should contact the SMART Transportation Department Legal Department if any issues or difficulties arise from this expansion to the DOT’s drug-testing protocols.

Two dead in train-school bus crash in N.D.

LARIMORE, N.D. – A school bus failed to yield to railroad crossing and stop signs and collided with an empty freight train Monday in North Dakota, killing the bus driver and a 17-year-old student and injuring 12 other people, the Highway Patrol said.

The accident happened at 3:39 p.m. Monday on a gravel road about 5 miles east of Larimore in the northeastern part of the state, about 100 miles north of Fargo. The bus was from the Larimore Public School District, authorities said.

Read the complete story at ABC Action News.

The most efficient mode of transportation is a train

railyard; train yard; yardThink hybrids that go 60 miles on a gallon are efficient? Trains can go eight times as far with 2,000 pounds in their backseat. And they’re only getting smarter.

Trains are no longer the lumbering hunks of metal of the 20th century. Today’s locomotives are computers on wheels, and they’re beginning to take business from fuel-guzzling semi-trucks.

“From a longtime standpoint, the continued conversion from truck to rail will continue,” said GE Transportation CEO Russell Stokes Thursday at the Forbes Reinventing America conference.

Read more at Forbes.

A president embraces the iron horse

In his state-of-the-union speech Jan. 26, President Obama mentioned the word “railroad” eight times — the most mentions of “railroad” in more than 30 years of state-of-the-union messages delivered by five different presidents.

Yes, there are those who keep count.

In fact, the Washington, D.C., public policy advocacy firm of Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell used their research skills to trace back to the turn of the 20th century — more than 110 years ago — mention of the word “railroad” in state-of-the-union speeches.

As the table below indicates, railroads were a pretty common topic of statecraft prior to World War II, not the least of reasons being that they were the primary means of moving people and freight in America. That, of course, was before commercial air travel — especially jet aircraft — and Interstate highways. Indeed, Teddy Roosevelt said “railroad” a whopping 153 times in state-of-the-union speeches during his presidency (1901-1909).

The dearth of the word “railroad” in state-of-the-union speeches in the decades between Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and Jerry Ford (1974-1977) ended with Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). Carter mentioned “railroad” 26 times in state-of-the-union speeches — and for good reason. During Carter’s presidency, railroad deregulation was among the top domestic priorities of his administration. It was Carter who signed into law the Staggers Rail Act, largely deregulating railroads, in 1980.

Comes now iron-horse champion Obama, who, in word and deed, is looking to resurrect rail passenger service — more precisely, world-class 21st century high-speed rail service — as a principal alternative to commercial airlines and automobiles.

Below is a table, courtesy of Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell, breaking down the mention of the word “railroad” in state-of-the-union speeches since 1901.

 

President Total “Rail” Used
Barack Obama 8
George W. Bush 1
Bill Clinton 1
George H.W. Bush 1
Ronald Reagan 3
Jimmy Carter 26
Gerald Ford 2
Richard Nixon 0
Lyndon Johnson 1
John Kennedy 1
Dwight Eisenhower 0
Harry Truman 2
Franklin Roosevelt 3
Herbert Hoover 14
Calvin Coolidge 29
Warren Harding 32
Woodrow Wilson 37
William Taft 62
Teddy Roosevelt 153
TOTAL 376

 

To read more about what President Obama said about railroads in his state-of-the-union speech, click on the following link:

https://smart-union.org/news/obama-all-aboard-for-high-speed-rail-6/