A Third of Amtrak Engineers Failed to Meet Exam Rules

A third of Amtrak’s locomotive engineers had failed to meet company physical exam rules before the passenger carrier suspended the requirements, the Amtrak Office of the Inspector General has found.

The rules were suspended last August. At the time, Amtrak said the action was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying having an exam unnecessarily risked employee exposure to COVID-19 and employees were having difficulty meeting the requirement under these circumstances.

The OIG report said Amtrak’s locomotive engineers had to have passed a triennial physical exam that met Federal Railroad Administration requirements before the exam suspension.

Among the factors that OIG personnel found resulted in noncompliance with the physical exam rules were transportation department officials being more concerned with meeting the FRA exam requirements to continue being certified to operate a locomotive, and supervisors not having a process to remove non-compliant engineers from service.

The report said Amtrak expects to reinstate the physical exam rules once the pandemic has fully waned. FRA required triennial exams will continue to be enforced.

The OIG recommended that Amtrak consider adopting more rigorous processes to enforce the physical examination requirement and remove non-compliant employees from service.

The recommendation suggested the vice president of transportation should be directly accountable for employee compliance with the rules.

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