The Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) recently petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a waiver of compliance from Federal railroad safety regulations regarding the movement of extended haul trains. In its petition, UP specifically requests that FRA allow the carrier to move several extended haul trains an additional 21 to 180 miles beyond the currently prescribed 1,500 mile limit. UP maintains that the requested relief will allow it to meet demand while not affecting safety.
The Brotherhood Railway Carman (BRC) has joined with five (5) other rail unions to oppose UP’s petition for waiver because the requested relief could endanger the safety of both railroad workers and the general public. Among other things, the unions have specifically complained to FRA that UP is not currently providing enough quality mechanical inspections on its network and that the carrier has failed to propose any plan to increase inspections in light of its petition for waiver.
The lack of quality mechanical inspections is of particular concern to the unions given the recent increase in railroad derailments over the past few years. In fact, it has been determined that several of these instances have been due to broken wheels. Problems such as these are detected and repaired by quality mechanical inspections.
“With all the recent accidents in the railroad industry, now is not the time to allow trains to move over 1,500 miles with compromised safety,” said BRC General President Richard Johnson. “Simply put, UP just doesn’t have an inspection plan in place to assure the safety of moving these designated trains past the already generous regulatory limit.”
Click here to read the comments submitted by TCU Carmen Division President Johnson.
Click here to read the joint rail union letter.