Unions Want FRA to Act on Coronavirus

Two railroad unions have asked the Federal Railroad Administration to take action to protect rail workers from the coronavirus.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division have asked the FRA to issue guidelines directed at railroads, their employees and passengers.

“We and other rail labor organizations take this issue very seriously, and we have been monitoring it closely,” BLET President Dennis Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson wrote in a letter to FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.

In a related development, executives at three Class 1 railroads canceled their planned presentations at the J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference in New York City due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The executives from Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and Union Pacific said they would not be speaking at the conference.

Also related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Commuter Rail Coalition has warned that the virus outbreak could disrupt efforts to complete installation of positive train control equipment.

The coalition said that was because of factory closings in China, where the virus originated. “Vendors have so far only alerted agencies to the threat, and agencies are exploring whether they have options for alternative sources for any components that might be cut off,” said KellyAnne Gallagher, executive director of the coalition.

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