US train

USA: The Federal Railroad Administration has announced two final rules that will require railways to develop certification and training programmes for dispatchers and people who install and maintain signalling systems.

Unlike with train crews, there have previously been no federal regulations mandating specific training requirements, safety and knowledge checks and verification of safety records for these roles.

‘Railroading has become an increasingly complex and demanding line of work, as employees must learn and adapt to new technologies and computerised systems, and as continuing workforce reductions have placed a greater responsibility on current and new workers’, said FRA Administrator Amit Bose on May 20. ‘By establishing a federal standard on the certification of dispatchers and signal employees, FRA is ensuring that railroads properly prepare, train, and equip their workforce, now and in the future.’

A spokesperson for the Association of American Railroads told Railway Gazette International ‘these two crafts are already subject to FRA training requirements (46 CFR Part 243), and the certification requirements within this rule are simply a solution in search of a problem. 

‘The most effective way to further enhance rail safety is to focus investments and policies on what will generate the most significant safety benefits. While railroads are continuing to review the rule, FRA’s safety justification and own cost-benefit analysis are thin at best.’