We have heard that our members are having issues concerning FMLA. Several complaints have been…
Invest In America Act
Below is a brief summary of the bill “INVEST in America Act”. This is being voted on today, although this is a summary, I left some of the information out and highlighted some of our important projects that we all have been worked on, by all of us, for a long time. ITS NICE TO HAVE FRIENDS IN THE HOUSE, this is expected to be a party line vote.
DIVISION D – RAIL Sec. 9001. Short title. States that this division may be cited as the “Transforming Rail by Accelerating Investment Nationwide Act” or the “TRAIN Act”. 39
TITLE I—AUTHORIZATIONS Sec. 9101. Authorization of Appropriations. Provides $29.3 billion over five years in grants to support Amtrak’s intercity passenger rail service on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the National Network. Provides higher Amtrak funding levels for FY 2021 and FY 2022 than subsequent years in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its network.
Additionally, $2 billion over five years of the National Network grants will go to offset allocated national costs that Amtrak charges states for state-supported routes. Authorizes five-year appropriations for the State-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee at $15 million and the Northeast Corridor Commission at $30 million.
Further, authorizes appropriations for the Amtrak Office of Inspector General at $137.5 million over five years.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Safety and Operations account is authorized at $1.165 billion over five years.
FRA’s Railroad Research and Development account is authorized at $230 million over five years.
Funding is specifically provided for research on the safety of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail, grants for improving Class II and Class III railroad safety, and to research the feasibility of expanding railroad safety culture assessments and training to include tourist, passenger, and commuter railroads.
Sec. 9105. Buy America. Requires DOT to provide notice and opportunity for public comment on requests for waivers from FRA’s Buy America standards at least 30 days before making a finding on such request. Also requires DOT to annually report to Congress on the waivers granted during the preceding fiscal year.
. TITLE II—AMTRAK REFORMS Sec. 9201. Amtrak Findings, Mission, and Goals. Amtrak’s findings, mission, and goals have been revised to reflect Congressional priorities for Amtrak. Amtrak must provide reliable national intercity passenger rail service now and, in the future, reflect the needs of all passengers, and support the U.S. workforce.
Sec. 9202. Amtrak Status. Clarifies that Amtrak serves the public interest in providing reliable passenger rail service.
Sec. 9203. Amtrak Board of Directors. Effective 60 days after enactment, realigns the makeup of Amtrak’s board of directors to better reflect the interests of passengers and Amtrak-served states. The board must represent the interests of areas served by Amtrak, Amtrak’s passengers and employees, in addition to the Amtrak president and DOT. Also clarifies that the board members provide advice and oversight of Amtrak operations, with consideration for the travelling public’s safety and interests, and the long-term viability of national passenger rail service.
Sec. 9204. Amtrak Preference Enforcement. Amtrak’s preferential access to freight-owned corridors dates to Amtrak’s early years and is key to the future success of intercity passenger rail transportation. This provision provides a means for Amtrak to enforce its statutory right of preference directly in Federal court without intermediaries.
Sec. 9205. Use of Facilities and Providing Services to Amtrak. Revises the Surface Transportation Board provisions that govern when Amtrak seeks to operate additional trains over rail lines owned by another carrier by establishing a process for the Board to determine whether the additional trains unreasonably impair freight transportation and initiate a proceeding to evaluate what additional investments are required.
Sec. 9206. Prohibition on Mandatory Arbitration. Prohibits Amtrak from imposing mandatory arbitration. This reverses Amtrak’s recent change to its ticket policy to include a mandatory arbitration clause that forces passengers who purchase tickets to waive their right to file a lawsuit or participate in a class action.
Sec. 9207. Amtrak ADA Assessment. Amtrak’s trains, stations, facilities, policies, and decision-making processes must serve passengers with disabilities. Existing facilities, including trains, stations, and parking, should be fully accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This provision requires Amtrak to perform a comprehensive review of all policies, protocols, and guidelines for compliance with the ADA. Sec. 9208. Prohibition on Smoking on Amtrak Trains. Prohibits smoking on Amtrak trains, including electronic cigarettes.
Sec. 9209. State Supported Routes Operated by Amtrak. Increases transparency of the costs Amtrak assigns to states for state-supported routes and calls for procedures to improve financial planning. The section directs the State-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee to report on potential improvements to the methodology that would promote accountability and transparency. Further, the section requires Amtrak to engage in early stakeholder engagement when developing new state-supported routes, and Amtrak must receive affirmative state permission before initiating such service. The section also allows states and Amtrak to pursue an alternative cost allocation method to facilitate the development, construction, and operation of new state-supported routes.
Sec. 9210. Amtrak Police Department. Requires Amtrak to identify the mission of the Amtrak Police Department, including the scope and priorities of the Department, in mitigating risks to and ensuring the safety and security of Amtrak passengers, employees, trains, stations, facilities, and other infrastructure. After doing so, Amtrak must develop a workforce planning process that ensures adequate employment levels of personnel necessary for fulling the Department’s mission and sets Department goals and metrics.
Sec. 9211. Amtrak Food and Beverage. Requires that any individual onboard a train who prepares onboard food and beverage service is an Amtrak employee. The section also establishes a working group charged with developing recommendations, and issuing a report within one year, on how to improve onboard food and beverage services. Amtrak is prohibited from making changes to its food and beverage service until 30 days after issuing a response to the working group recommendations. The provision also requires Amtrak to ensure that all long-distance passengers traveling overnight have access to hot meals, not just sleeping car passengers, and it removes statutory language limiting Amtrak’s ability to provide food and beverage service due to costs.
Sec. 9212. Clarification on Amtrak Contracting Out. Requires Amtrak to honor prohibitions or limitations on contracting-out work that are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that Amtrak has entered into with a union representing its workers. The section states that Amtrak cannot contract out the work performed by an employee if such employee has been laid off and has not been recalled to perform such work. Also states that Amtrak and a union can include in a CBA an allowance for contracting out the work of an employee who is laid off.
Sec. 9213. Amtrak Staffing. Prevents Amtrak from contracting out work performed at Amtrak call centers. The section also requires an Amtrak ticket agent to staff each station with recent workforce cuts or where there was more than an average of 40 Amtrak passengers boarding or deboarding a long-distance train per day in the previous fiscal year.
TITLE V—RAIL SAFETY Subtitle A—Passenger and Freight Safety
Sec. 9501. National Academies Study on Safety Impact of Trains Longer than 7,500 Feet. Long trains place different operational demands on the rail network and workforce. This provision begins a National Academies study on the safety impacts of trains longer than 7,500 feet in a variety of terrains and conditions.
The study will consider safety factors, such as loss of communication between crew members and train load composition.
44 Sec. 9502. GAO Study on Changes in Freight Railroad Operating and Scheduling Practices. Initiates a GAO report on the industry-wide impacts of the Precision Scheduled Railroading model. Directs GAO to take a holistic look at the impacts on freight rail shippers, Amtrak, commuter railroads, and railroad employees.
Sec. 9503. FRA Safety Reporting. Amends FRA accident report forms to collect information on train length and crew size.
Sec. 9504. Waiver Notice Requirements. This section requires FRA to engage in a public process before granting waivers from railroad safety standards and regulations. FRA must give the public notice of a waiver request, make available a waiver application and any supporting data, and provide the public with notice and an opportunity to comment on waivers before they are finalized.
Sec. 9505. Notice of FRA Comprehensive Safety Assessments. Requires that, not later than 10 business days after the FRA initiates a comprehensive safety assessment of an entity providing regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail transportation, the FRA must notify the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and each member of Congress representing a state in which the service that is the subject of the assessment being conducted is located. Additionally, not later than 90 days after the comprehensive safety assessment is complete, FRA must transmit the findings of the assessment to such Committees and Members of Congress.
Sec. 9506. FRA Accident and Incident Investigations. Requires DOT to create a standard process during FRA accident and incident investigations for gathering information about the accident or incident, and consulting for technical expertise with railroad carriers, contractors or employees or employee representatives, and other relevant entities. In developing the process, the Secretary shall factor in ways to maintain confidentiality of such entities when requested and appropriate.
Sec. 9507. Rail Safety Improvements. In response to the recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued following the December 2017 Amtrak derailment near DuPont, Washington, this provision directs DOT to complete a study on how signage can improve rail safety, reevaluate seat securement mechanisms and identify means to prevent their failure, develop policies for the safe use of child safety seats, and conduct research to evaluate the causes of passenger injuries in passenger railcar derailments and overturns, and use such findings to develop occupant protection standards. The section also directs Amtrak to improve its training and skill proficiency requirements for operating crewmembers, to ensure that wayside signs and plaques are highly noticeable and strategically located, to ensure all operating documents are current before starting new or revised operations, to take measures to improve its system safety plan and conduct risk assessments on all new or upgraded services. FRA and Amtrak must report on their progress within 18 months.
Sec. 9508. Annual Review of Speed Limit Action Plans. The FAST Act mandated that railroad carriers providing intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation survey their systems and develop plans that identify each main track location where a reduction of more than 20 miles-per-hour exist, ensure compliance with the maximum authorized 45 speed at each location, describe actions to enable warning and enforcement of maximum authorized speed, and set milestones for implementing such actions. As recommended in the NTSB DuPont derailment accident report, this section expands the mandate to require that carriers review their plans annually to ensure they are effective, and that carriers submit revised plans to the Secretary for approval prior to implementing any operational or territorial change. New intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation service must comply with the safety requirement prior to beginning operation.
Sec. 9509. Freight Train Crew Size Safety Standards. Includes a two-person crew requirement that generally requires that freight trains have a certified engineer and a certified conductor. Limited exemptions are included for short line and small railroads, but no exemptions are available for trains carrying dangerous hazmat and long trains, which must be staffed with two crewmembers.
Sec. 9510. Safe Cross Border Operations. Prohibits the Secretary from granting or modifying a waiver to allow mechanical or brake inspections of rail cars to be performed in Mexico in lieu of complying with the certification requirements of section 416 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. This section also prohibits railroad employees whose primary reporting point is in Mexico from entering the U.S. to perform train or dispatching service unless the Secretary certifies that such workers are subject to certain specific safety standards that apply to U.S.-based crews. If the Secretary certifies that such safety standards are met, the Secretary must publicly notice, seek public comment, and hold a public hearing on such certification notice, and notify Congress.
Sec. 9511. Yardmasters Hours of Service. Makes yardmaster employees subject to FRA’s hours of service protections, defined as individuals responsible for supervising and coordinating the control of trains and engines operating within a rail yard.
Sec. 9512. Leaking Brakes. Directs the FRA to take such actions as are necessary to ensure that certain air brake control valves that leak in cold weather conditions are phased out on rail cars operating in cold regions of the United States. The section also requires the FRA to report annually on the progress made to phase out the air brake control valves and any actions the agency has taken.
Sec. 9513. Annual Report on PTC System Failures. Establishes an annual reporting requirement for positive train control (PTC) system failures.
Sec. 9514. Fatigue Reduction Pilot Projects. Requires the Secretary to conduct fatigue pilot projects mandated in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and directs that the projects be developed and evaluated in coordination with the labor organizations representing impacted employees. The section also permits the Secretary to reimburse participating railroads for associated costs and authorizes funds for such purpose. If the pilot projects have not begun one year after the date of enactment, then the Secretary must report to Congress on the pilot project status, FRA efforts and challenges, and other details associated with their development.
Sec. 9515. Assault Prevention and Response Plans. Requires passenger and commuter railroad carriers to implement response plans and employee training in order to address assaults against both passengers and employees. The section also requires railroads to report annual assault data to FRA.
Sec. 9516. Critical Incident Stress Plans. Amends FRA regulations to include assault in the definition of a critical incident, after which railroad carriers must offer support services to employees who witness or experience such events.
Sec. 9517. Study on Safety Culture Assessments. Requires the FRA to conduct a study on the feasibility of expanding the scope of railroad safety culture assessments and training to include tourist, passenger, and commuter railroads. Subtitle B—Grade Crossing Safety
Sec. 9551. Grade Crossing Separation Grants. To reflect the significant demand for funds to support grade separation projects, this section creates a new grant program authorized at $2.5 billion over five years to build or improve grade crossing separations. Right-of-way owners must contribute at least 10% of the total project costs. No more than 50% of the funds can go to projects that cost $100 million or more. For projects over $40 million the cost-share is 80 percent and for projects under $40 million the cost-share is 85 percent.
Sec. 9552. Rail Safety Public Awareness Grants. This section authorizes a new FRA grant program at $30 million over five years with a focus on reducing rail-related accidents and improving safety along railroad rights-of-way and highway-rail grade crossings. Eligible programs include public service announcements and media campaigns, school and driver education safety presentations, and dissemination of safety information to communities.
Sec. 9553. Establishment of a 10-minute Time Limit for Blocking Public Grade Crossings. This section mirrors many state laws by prohibiting a stopped freight train from blocking a public crossing for more than 10 minutes and allows the Secretary to impose penalties. Enforcement of the blocked crossing regulations may also be delegated to states.
Sec. 9554. National Strategy to Address Blocked Crossings. Directs DOT to develop a national strategy to address blocked crossings.
Sec. 9555. Railroad Point of Contact for Blocked Crossing Matters. Adds blocked crossings to the grade crossing problems that the public may report to a railroad under existing law.
Sec. 9556. National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory Review. Requires the Secretary to review the National Highway-Rail Crossing Inventory for accuracy and make appropriate changes.
John P. Tolman
Vice President & National Legislative Representative
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
Teamsters Rail Conference
25 Louisiana Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 624-8776 — desk
(202) 624-3086 — fax
(216) 272-1246 — cell