FRA Announces Start of Environmental Impact Statement for California High-Speed Passenger Rail Project

March 16, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

LOS ANGELES — The Federal Railroad Administration announced it will jointly prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the California High-Speed Rail Authority for two sections of the state’s proposed high-speed passenger rail project. The two EIS documents, covering the Palmdale to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Orange County corridors, will involve preliminary engineering designs and assess the environmental impact associated with construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed project. These two corridors are part of the Authority’s plan to build a 700-mile high-speed rail system from Sacramento / San Francisco to San Diego capable of speeds in excess

FRA Denies DM&E Powder River Basin Loan Application

February 26, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman today denied a $2.3 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan application from the Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern (DM&E) railroad concluding it posed an unacceptably high risk to federal taxpayers. In a decision released Feb 26, Boardman found that while the Powder River Basin project met some of the RRIF program’s statutory requirements, there remained too high a risk concerning the railroad’s ability to repay the loan even with an appropriate combination of credit risk premiums and collateral. He said he was concerned by several factors, including the DM&E’s current highly

NTSB Asks Congress to Give FRA Hours of Service Authority

February 14, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker today asked Congress to give the Federal Railroad Administration the statutory authority to revise hours of service rules for railroad workers, noting that current rules are not based on science related to fatigue. Testifying before the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Chairman Rosenker said that over the past 23 years the NTSB has investigated 16 major railroad accidents in which it established that the probable cause was crewmember fatigue. Operator fatigue has been on the Board’s Most Wanted List

Federal Government Will Regulate Railroad Hours of Service and Increase Focus on Safety Risk Reduction, Under the Administration’s Proposed Rail Safety Legislation

February 14, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — For the first time ever the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will have authority to regulate railroad worker hours of service and will provide greater focus on risk reduction to improve safety in the railroad industry under a rail safety reauthorization bill submitted to the Congress today, FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced. “We must embrace new methods and strategies to further reduce the number of accidents in the rail industry,” Boardman said. “Railroads must be more accountable for the safety of their operations and rail employees need work schedules that reduce fatigue and promote safety,” he added, noting

New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Redevelopment Effort Receives FRA Grant

February 13, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

NEW ORLEANS — The future role of the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT) in meeting the city’s transportation needs where passengers could potentially transfer between transit, commuter rail and intercity rail and bus operations will be examined using a nearly $1 million federal grant, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced. “Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of New Orleans in many ways, including a direct impact on the area’s transportation infrastructure,” Boardman said, noting that previously established population and transportation patterns in the region have been significantly altered. The $994,000 federal grant funding to the New Orleans Regional Planning

Rail Employees at Nation’s Largest Rail Yard to Confidentially Report ‘Close Calls’ Under New Federal Rail Safety Pilot Project

February 2, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Employees at the nation’s largest rail yard can now voluntarily and anonymously report “close call” incidents that could have resulted in an accident, but did not, without fear of sanction or penalty from their employer or the federal government as part of a new rail safety pilot project. “Having the opportunity to learn about and analyze these ‘close-calls,’ will help us identify and correct problems across the industry,” Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said, noting that the aviation industry already has a similar program. FRA currently requires railroads to report a wide range of accidents

FRA Issues Final Environmental Review on Proposed DM&E Powder River Basin Project, New Safety and Air Quality Requirements Added

January 31, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced it has determined that the proposed Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern (DM&E) Powder River Basin project has met the requirements of the federal environmental review process, and outlined new measures the railroad must take to improve safety and air quality if the pending DM&E $2.3 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan application is approved. The release of FRA’s final environmental review, known as a Record of Decision (ROD), marks the start of a 90-day clock within which the agency must approve or disapprove the DM&E loan application. The final decision

FRA Issues Safety Advisory on Maintenance Equipment

January 26, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — In response to a deadly derailment in November, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a safety advisory to railroad industry owners and operators urging them to ensure specialized maintenance equipment is only operated by fully qualified individuals and is properly inspected. “I cannot emphasize enough the responsibility and necessity of railroads and contractors that use these vehicles to operate them in the safest manner possible,” said FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman. “We have zero tolerance for careless mistakes that needlessly cause harm or injury to workers, contractors or the public at large.” The Safety Advisory is being

FRA Issues Proposed Guidelines for Rail Relocation and Improvement Grant Program

January 19, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking detailing proposed qualifications and standards for capital grants under the rail line relocation and improvement program created in the SAFETEA-LU legislation. In order to be eligible for a grant, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle traffic flow, community quality of life or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any portion of the rail line. Under the FRA proposal, half of all grant funds are reserved for projects costing no more than $20 million each. A state or other

FRA Issues Safety Advisory for Rail Yard Safety

January 19, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — As a result of a fatal Dec. 14 rail yard switching accident in Manlius, N.Y., the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Safety Advisory recommending that railroads assess their existing rules addressing safety at yard grade crossings. The agency also urges railroads to review, or as necessary, amend their rules governing yard movements to clarify what actions employees must take under various circumstances to fully adhere to operating procedures. In the December accident, a worker backing a pickup truck over a yard grade crossing was struck by rail cars being moved by a remote control locomotive. The

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