FRA Certification Helpline: (216) 694-0240

The BLET has filed formal comments with the Federal Railroad Administration opposing a safety waiver that would allow the introduction of autonomous train technology in the United States. BLET Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna said the technology is “not ready for prime time” when he testified at a March 12 FRA hearing to consider the waiver. Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia have asked the FRA for the wholesale waiving of numerous federal safety regulations so they can begin testing autonomous, self-propelled battery-powered freight cars produced by a tech startup, Parallel Systems.

The BLET formal comments note concerns regarding the weight of the vehicles, the inability of the vehicles to detect and interpret information the way a certified locomotive engineer in the cab of the locomotive would, and the lack of specificity regarding training that would need to be provided to locomotive engineers operating the vehicles.

The BLET comments state in part: “While we are pleased that the petitioners have so far committed to utilizing certified locomotive engineers to operate the vehicles, the safety risks are simply too great at this time. Until the technology is better developed to create a similar level of safety — or preferably a higher level of safety — we have asked the FRA to deny the waiver petition.”

The comments are available at