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This page contains new items about the New Jersey Short Line Railroad Association, our members and railroads in general.

9/25/13 Christie Administration announces twelve grants through the Rail Freight Assistance Program Almost $13 million will fund rail improvement projects supporting economic activity throughout the state

(Trenton) - The Christie Administration today announced 12 grants totaling $12,991,114 through the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Fiscal Year 2013 Rail Freight Assistance Program which helps support economic activity by preserving and improving the existing freight transportation system and by making freight rail service more widely available for businesses throughout the state.

“The Christie Administration is committed to providing assistance to New Jersey’s freight railroads for improvements to and preservation of our rail transportation network,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. “The projects funded here will help advance a transportation strategy that strives to increase mobility and efficiency in the movement of goods in support of the State’s economy.”

The projects receiving funding in this round of grants include upgrades and repairs to existing railroad tracks and bridges and for expansion projects that will connect existing freight rail lines with new customers.

The Rail Freight Assistance Program, administered by the NJDOT Bureau of Multimodal Grants and Programs, provides funding for capital improvements that result in the continuation of economically viable rail freight services in the state. Grant applications are evaluated on a cost/benefit basis. Factors considered in the selection of the projects include: economic benefits, efficient and responsive freight distribution, energy and environmental factors, and highway congestion mitigation. Sponsors – typically the owner of the railroad – are also required to continue freight service on the improved line for at least five years after completion of the project.

Since 1994, the State of New Jersey has provided more than $65 million for rail projects through the New Jersey Rail Freight Assistance Program. These grants provide funding for 90 percent of the estimated cost of each project while the sponsor is beholden to provide the remaining 10 percent.

Application proposals are accepted through SAGE, the State’s on-line System for Administering Grants Electronically.

NJSLRRA Sponsored FRA Training Seminar

The New Jersey Short Line Railroad Association is sponsoring a training seminar which will be conducted by FRA Regions 1 and 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Edison, NJ on June 6 and June 7, 2013.  The training will cover the usual disciplines, namely Operating Practices, Roadway Worker Protection, Track, Hazardous Materials, Communications and Signals, and MP&E. Please circulate this information within your organizations.

There is no charge to attend the training seminar itself; meals and lodging, if necessary, will be extra.

Additional details about the training schedule will be sent out during the week of May 6. 

Since the training will begin about 8:00 a.m. on both days, anyone traveling a distance may want to book a room at the Hilton Garden Inn.  We need a minimum of ten (10) rooms to qualify for the group rate.  The group rate will be $159.00 for the night of June 5 and $108.00 for the night of June 6.  These rates are for King Deluxe Rooms.  These rates are subject to the local sales tax and the occupancy tax.

To make a hotel reservation, please call the Hilton Garden Inn at 732-225-0900.  The Reservation Code for our group rate is FRA.  The reservation deadline for this rate is May 16, 2013.

If you have any questions please contact Kel MacKavanaugh at or call my cell phone (609-472-8748).

Joyce Rose, Staff Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, has been named the next President and CEO of Operation Lifesaver, Inc., starting December 3, 2012.
Click here for the press release.

SOFA 3rd Quarter 2012 Report Available

Click on this link for the 2012 Third Quarter SOFA Update. Emphasis is placed on implementing the Five SOFA Advisories and the Five Lifesavers/Recommendations into safe operating practice. Recent Fatalities have involved the Advisories and Lifesaver/Recommendation 1 (going between rolling equipment). To make Fall months safe for employees engaged in switching, this implementation is crucial. There have been 43 switching Fatalities in September, October, and November since 1992.

242 Conductor Certification Regulation is now posted on the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
Click here to go to the site.

Here is a summary by Larry Mann, UTU Rail Safety Coordinator (posted 8/21/12)

The FRA amended its conductor certification rules in February, delaying the time for testing conductors, extending the time for formulating training programs and amending the territorial qualification requirements.

By Sept. 1, 2012, each railroad shall have grandfathered as “certified conductors” all persons who were performing conductor duties as of Jan. 1, 2012. This includes conductors on Class I, Class II, Amtrak and commuter railroads, and means they must have issued “certified conductor” certificates to those conductors.

After Sept. 1, Class I and Class II railroads, as well as Amtrak and commuter railroads, must designate and issue certificates to all persons authorized to perform as conductors between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 1, 2012.

Class III railroads, after Sept. 1, must designate and issue certificates to all persons authorized to perform as conductors between Jan. 1, 2012, and April 1, 2013.

After Dec. 1, 2012, Class I and Class II railroads, as well as Amtrak and commuter railroads, may not initially certify or recertify a person as conductor unless that person has been tested and evaluated in accordance with FRA conductor certification rules.

For Class III railroads, that date is after April 1, 2013.

In all cases, testing and evaluation must be conducted under FRA-approved carrier certification programs. Class I and Class II railroads, as well as Amtrak and commuter railroads, have until Sept. 30 to submit to FRA for approval their programs for training, testing and evaluation of conductors. The programs must be approved by the FRA no later than Dec. 1. For Class III railroads, the submission date is Jan. 31, and the approval date is April 1.

All of the programs submitted by railroads will require the railroads to consult with general chairpersons before being submitted to the FRA; and general chairpersons have 45 days to file comments, objections, and alternative plans with the FRA.

The railroads are required to conduct annual reviews of their programs and respond to detected instances of poor safety conduct by certified conductors.

If a conductor lacks territorial qualification on mainline track physical characteristics, that conductor shall be assisted by a person who meets the territorial qualification requirements.

For a conductor who has never been qualified over the particular territory, the assistant shall be a certified conductor who is not an assigned crew member.

If the conductor was previously qualified, but such qualification has expired for one year or less, and who has not regularly traveled over the territory prior to the expiration, the assistant may be any person, including an assigned crew member who meets the territorial qualification requirements.

If the qualification expired more than one year, the assistant may also be any person, so long as the duties of the assistant do not conflict with his safety duties and he is qualified for the main track physical characteristics and that person is not the assigned locomotive engineer.

FRA/OHSA Whistleblower Cooperation Agreement Press Release

Federal Railroad Administration Issues Final Rule on Emergency Notification Systems at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

WASHINGTON – Under the final rule published in today’s Federal Register, railroads must establish Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) by installing clear and readable signs with toll-free telephone numbers at crossings so the public can report unsafe situations and for railroads to respond to malfunctioning warning signals, vehicles stalled on the tracks or other emergency situations. Depending on a railroad’s operating characteristics, calls may be received through a 24 hour call center, or for smaller railroads, through an automated answering system or third-party telephone service.

Upon receiving a call, the dispatching railroad is required to contact all trains authorized to operate through the crossing, inform local law enforcement to assist in directing traffic, investigate the report or request that the railroad with maintenance responsibility for the crossing to investigate the report. If the report is substantiated, the railroad is required to take certain actions to remedy the unsafe condition.

Based upon comments received in response to its proposed rule, railroads without an existing e ENS will have until July 2015 to establish one. Railroads that currently have an ENS in place may be able to retain existing signs, or will have until July 2015 or July 2017 to replace signs depending upon several factors. FRA’s regulatory impact analysis for the final rule found the total cost will be $15.6 million, which is expected to be off-set by estimated accident and casualty reduction benefits of $57.8 million over a 15-year period.

There are approximately 211,000 public and private highway-rail and pathway grade crossings in the United States. Many major freight and commuter railroads have systems in place to receive emergency reports. The rule announced today builds upon the experience gained through previous voluntary, state, federal and industry experience. Section 205 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required FRA to issue the regulation.

The final rule can be viewed here.

American Cancer Society Bike-A-Thon Sponsorship Needed

John McCreavy of SMS Rail wil be again participating in the American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon, a unique and exciting event to raise money in support of the American Cancer Society's mission to save lives from cancer. This event is on July 8th.

Please visit his personal page to learn more about his participation in this event and to make a secure, online donation. All contributions are tax deductible and will support the American Cancer Society's efforts to save lives and create more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. You can also mail a check made out to the American Cancer Society to John at P.O. Box 65, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444


Emphasis is placed on working safely this summer. Historically, switching Fatalities are high in June and July. Reviewing the new Five Advisories and the long-standing Five Lifesavers/Recommendations can help reduce risk this summer to employees engaged in switching. Click here to see the full report.


Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Control of Alcohol and Drug Use: Addition of Post-Accident Toxicological Testing for Non-Controlled Substances
Pages 29307-29312 [FR DOC# 2012-11969]
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