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From left: BLET President Eddie Hall, FRA Administrator Amit Bose, First VP Mark Wallace and National S-T David Estes

FRA Administrator Amit Bose revealed during his speech at the BLET Western Regional Meeting in Kansas City that the FRA will soon relaunch its Rail Safety Advisory Group (RSAC) overseeing remote control train operations. An investigative report published by the New York Times on May 27 (via Yahoo, no subscription necessary) exposed how railroads are aggressively expanding their remote operations. Remotes were not intended for use outside of yard limits when they were introduced 20 years ago, but railroads are now pushing the limits of safety by routinely running remote trains between rail yards and on main line tracks through residential and commercial neighborhoods, sometimes carrying hazardous cargo.

Administrator Bose indicated the RSAC group will study remote control operations in yards and on main lines to determine if safety can be improved through regulation or other actions. He said he expects FRA to make a formal announcement about the reinvigorated remote control working group later this year.

BLET First Vice President Mark Wallace welcomed the announcement. “Increased federal oversight has become necessary as railroads have routinely pushed the envelope and cut corners when it comes to the safety of remote control train operations. On behalf of the BLET National Division, I thank Administrator Bose for his leadership and commitment to rail safety.”

Administrator Bose also talked about the FRA’s numerous rail safety endeavors, including the recent two-person crew safety regulation, train make up, excessive train length, and emergency escape breathing apparatus.