FRA Denies CSX’s Request for Relief from Brake System Safety Standards

CSX Transportation (CSX) recently petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a waiver of compliance from certain provisions of the Federal railroad safety regulations regarding the testing and inspecting of air brakes for trains traveling over 1,000 miles but are not designated as extended haul trains under § 232.213. More specifically, CSX requested relief from the 1,000 mile limit for certain CSX trains that travel 1,052 miles from origination (where the trains receive Class I brake tests) to destination. In addition, CSX also asked FRA to permit “qualified persons,” as opposed to “qualified mechanical inspectors,” to conduct all required brake tests on trains subject to any relief granted.

The Brotherhood Railway Carman (BRC) joined with other rail unions to oppose CSX’s petition for waiver because the requested relief would not ensure the same level of safety as provided by the current Federal regulations. We are happy to announce that the FRA’s Railroad Safety Board (Board) reviewed CSX’s waiver petition and based on the information provided in support of CSX’s request for relief, the Board could not justify granting the requested relief at this time. In making this decision, the Board noted that CSX’s petition did “not contain any safety data to justify the relief requested,” as required by the Federal regulations. Furthermore, the Board also noted that CSX’s petition did not explain why it could not “operate the identified trains in compliance with § 232.213,” which would designate the applicable trains as extended haul trains, thus removing the need for waiver entirely.

“This is a great win for rail labor,” says BRC President Rich Johnson. “The Board made the right decision here; had they chosen to grant CSX this relief, other railroads would have tried to do the same thing, undoubtedly decreasing the safety of all railroad employees and the general public as well.”

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December 2023