As state departments of transportation and other groups continue to press regulators for changes, the Federal Railroad Administration said it has delayed for a full year a rule that would require passenger railroads to submit system safety programs.
The agency's latest stay of the rule – after four earlier delays – headed off a deadline of Dec. 4 for its requirements to take effect. The new deadline is Dec. 4, 2018.
Various state DOTs have been pressing for the FRA to clarify that its rule would not apply to states or other political agencies that own railroads or financially support them, but would instead be limited to the actual operators of intercity and commuter rail lines.
Those formally petitioning for such changes or supporting them include the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the DOTs from North Carolina, Indiana and Massachusetts. They also asked the FRA to stay its rule while the agency considers the change requests.
The FRA said in a Nov. 30 Federal Register notice that it was again delaying the requirement "given the multiple requests for a continued stay of the rule" and the "FRA's interest in addressing the issues raised in the state petitions prior to requiring full compliance."
It noted that the FRA officials on Oct. 30 met with various stakeholders to get their input and "discuss potential paths forward to respond to the petitions" before taking final action.
Those attending, the FRA said, included representatives from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transportation Association, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Association of American Railroads, Amtrak, plus union and freight shipping groups.
The Federal Railroad Administration issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity for $500,000 in state grants on July 11 under its Railroad Safety State Participation Pilot Grant Program, made available by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
July 13, 2018
The Federal Transit Administration opened up a Notice of Funding Opportunity on July 11 for $5 million in fiscal year 2018 grants aimed at supporting transit projects for Native American tribes and Alaska Native villagers in rural areas.
Two recent reports indicate that distracted driving remains a growing problem in the U.S. – yet one that two Northwestern states, at least, are finding can be addressed with stricter distracted driving laws.