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The BLET’s National Legislative Office in Washington, D.C., scored a regulatory win for BLET members last week by blocking Union Pacific’s attempt to move trains across the border into the U.S. at Laredo, Texas without stopping under certain conditions. UP interchanges with foreign-owned railroads at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Laredo. Under a previous administrator, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) gave an additional condition on the regulatory extension for Union Pacific to use foreign train crews to move trains approximately 11 miles into the United States. FRA cited BLET’s objections to UP’s petition for a waiver extension (FRA Docket Number FRA-2007-28339). BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative Vince Verna filed the objection on December 27, 2022 on behalf of BLET. The FRA mentioned BLET’s concerns regarding the need to stop Mexican train crews from operating on American soil. FRA granted UP’s waiver extension, but clarified in an additional waiver condition that crews taking any train from the border to the UP yard in Laredo would be done by UP engineers and conductors who are FRA certified — not Mexican crews. Specifically, FRA added the following requirement in granting UP’s waiver extension: “All trains crossing the international bridge at Laredo and destined for UP’s Port Laredo Yard must be operated from the bridge to that Yard by a properly qualified and certified UP locomotive engineer and conductor.” Vice President Verna cited the need for vigilance on the issue. He said the waiver is extended for five years, but warned that UP and other railroads operating at ports along the southern border will likely attempt to find work-arounds that test the strength of Part §240 Engineer Certification and Part 242 Conductor Certification. The extension of the waiver comes up for renewal in 2027-2028.  “Viva Verna,” said BLET National President Eddie Hall. “This regulatory win was due to the diligence and solid work by Brother Verna and his team at the National Legislative Office. This is a victory for BLET and all of our members who work along the border with Mexico.”