Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific Ask FRA to Grant Exemption to Allow Automated Tests

A pair of Union Pacific locomotives idle in Atlanta on June 11, 2011. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific want an exemption from federal requirements for a potash unit train pair running between Portland, Oregon and Saskatchewan, Canada.

CP train Nos. 668 and 669 operate between loading facilities in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the ports of Portland, Oregon.

The railroads want to use wheel temperature detectors for an Automated Brake Effectiveness (ABE) test instead of manual Class I brake tests performed by Certified Car Inspectors. The tests would take place on westbound trains at a designated inspection location in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

The railroads say that the ABE test process should provide more accurate brake testing, more proactive identification and repair of defects, and safer railway operations. Railroad unions, however, oppose the request, saying it will not increase safety.

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