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H.R. 2095 moves to US senate floor
Published: September 30, 2008
Source: BLET
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The Senate voted Monday to invoke cloture and will vote on H.R. 2095 on Wednesday. The legislation, which combines elements of both H.R. 2095 and S. 1889, along with the Amtrak legislation passed by the House and Senate, passed in the House by voice vote September 24.

bullet Senate amendment to the bill, H.R. 2095, with an amendment.

The legislation was put on a fast track to passage largely due to the collision between a Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight train on September 12. The safety portion of the legislation contains provisions mandating the implementation of Positive Train Control by 2015, which could have prevented the Metrolink-UP collision.

The legislation limits railroad operating crews to a maximum 276 hours per month, including limbo time. It limits limbo time to 40 hours a month the first year after enactment and 30 hours a month thereafter.

"In any piece of legislation, you aim high and hope that others will aim high with you," BLET Vice President & National Legislative Representative John Tolman said. "The Legislative Department worked hard, having several State Legislative Board Chairmen, General Chairmen and Vice Presidents lobbying with us to help craft the best bill possible, but unfortunately, we didn't get everything we asked for."

Some other rail safety provisions include:

Targeted fatigue countermeasures: a railroad's plan shall take into account the varying circumstances of operations by the railroad on different parts of its system, and shall prescribe appropriate fatigue countermeasures to address those varying circumstances. The plan should also address the following:

bullet Employee education.
bullet Opportunities for identification, diagnosis, and treatment of any medical condition that may affect alertness or fatigue, including sleep disorders.
bullet Scheduling practices for employees, including innovative scheduling practices, on duty call practices, work and rest cycles, increased consecutive days off for employees, changes in shift patterns, appropriate scheduling practices for varying types of work, and other aspects of employee scheduling that would reduce employee fatigue and cumulative sleep loss.
bullet Methods to minimize accidents and incidents that occur as a result of working at times when scientific and medical research have shown increased fatigue disrupts employees' circadian rhythm.
bullet Alertness strategies.
bullet Opportunities to obtain restful sleep at lodging facilities, including employee sleeping quarters provided by the railroad carrier.
bullet The increase of the number of consecutive hours of off-duty rest, during which an employee receives no communication from the employing railroad carrier or its managers, supervisors, officers, or agents.
bullet Avoidance of abrupt changes in rest cycles for employees.
bullet Additional elements that the Secretary considers appropriate.
bullet 10 hour call pilot project and scheduled call pilot project.
bullet Labor and management can negotiate alternative hours of service plans.
bullet Existing hours of service law shall apply to commuter, short haul passenger carriers, or intercity carriers until regulations are issued by the Secretary within three years after the law is enacted.
bullet Implementation of positive train control by 2015.
bullet Mandating prompt medical attention for injured railroad employees.
bullet Provides for a study of the locomotive cab environment.
bullet Mandating critical incident stress debriefing.
bullet Mandating a study of railroad employee exposure to nuclear radiation.
bullet Requiring require railroads to provide emergency escape breathing apparatus with respiratory protection for all crewmembers in locomotive cabs.

The bill authorizes $13.06 billion over five years for passenger rail -- more than $2.6 billion annually for Amtrak, intercity passenger rail, and high speed rail programs, which is almost double what the U.S. is currently spending.


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