The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), represented by Jo Strang, Senior Vice President, Safety & Regulatory Policy, testified Monday before a Small Business Administration hearing on National Regulatory Fairness. ASLRRA represents 603 short lines in the United States, and the issues discussed were around ensuring that the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, (SBREFA) requirements are followed when evaluating small business (i.e., short line railroad) issues.
Strang said “The U.S. DOT should require agencies within the Department to use current data and sound science to establish the need for a new rule, and give the public meaningful opportunity to review, assess, supplement, and comment upon it. Too often agencies give little or no relief to small carriers from the effects of rules designed for giant Class 1 railroads based upon cursory economic analyses based on faulty assumptions.”
ASLRRA pointed out several rules that the DOT should review, such as the Training Standards Rule and the Risk Reduction Rule. Strang said that petitions to alter these rulings have been filed by ASLRRA, and the petitions contain clear plans on how short line and regional railroads can more easily establish and comply with the rules.
Short lines should not have to deal with obsolete rules around inspection, reporting, and communications pertaining to railroading, ASLRRA said, and requested that the DOT eliminate these rules and reduce the regulatory requirements for short line roads.
ASLRAA also said that when a short line fails to comply with a rule, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) should remember its stated posture on helping short line roads understand the rules and help them avoid violations, rather than having a knee-jerk response and fine the road when a violation occurs.
Strang added “We would like to recognize the fact that some regions are taking a collaborative approach to safety enforcement. While not soft on enforcement, they work with the railroad to identify problem areas and build relationships that foster a culture of safety and compliance. They provide training on the regulations and try to help small business railroads. Giving railroads the chance to fix the issue and adjust operations is the key to creating a safer working environment. FRA working together with the railroad will have long-lasting positive safety impacts that move the industry forward.”