Posts Tagged ‘Federal government shutdown’

Shutdown to Have Minimal Effect on Railroads

January 22, 2018

The federal government shutdown that began on Saturday is not expected to have much effect on railroad operations.

Federal safety and oversight oriented agencies such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Surface Transportation Board have designated “excepted” employees to perform accident investigations and equipment inspections related to the safety of human life and to issue emergency service orders.

However, those employees will not receive paychecks or be reimbursed for their travel expenses while the shutdown continues.

During past shutdowns, Congress agreed to grant back pay and travel reimbursements after the shutdown ended.

The heads of the agencies are presidential appointees and thus exempt from being furloughed.

Under federal law, presidential appointees have an absolute entitlement to their salaries. If needed, they can use the federal Court of Claims to get paid.

The FRA said that 487 of its 929 employees, including some in the legal department, are excepted from being furloughed due to their responsibilities for safety inspections, investigations, writing emergency orders and representing the agency in court.

Such day-to-day operations as management of federal grants and environmental reviews will not be performed during the shutdown.

Most STB operations will be on hold during the shutdown, but it provides a telephone number to be called “if you believe you have an emergency that requires immediate Board action” such as an emergency service orders.

Amtrak will continue its regular operations during the shutdown. The passenger carrier’s federal funding comes in large block grants that are sufficient to enable it to continue operating.

CVSR To Operate as Scheduled

January 20, 2018

Despite the shutdown of non-essential government services, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad said it will operate today as scheduled.

The railroad posted on its website a notice that the National Park Scenic and special events trains set for Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 will operate under an agreement with the National Park Service during the government shutdown.

During the last government shutdown, which occurred in October 2013, CVSR trains were sidelined due to the closing of national Parks.

In its notice, the CVSR suggested that passengers arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time at their designated station.

The National Park Scenic has been on hiatus since late November and the last CVSR train to operate was the Polar Express on Dec. 21.

The special train scheduled for Sunday will depart from Akron Northside Station at 7:30 p.m. and feature several events, including beer tasting, a murder mystery, a wine tasting, and a ghost stories event. Some of these events are sold out, but tickets remain for passengers who simply want to take a train ride at night without ghosts, beer, wine or murders.

CVSR Service Suspended, Amtrak Still Running

October 2, 2013

The shutdown of the federal government on Tuesday has also forced a suspension of service on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Although the CVSR is a not-for-profit organization and not a government agency, it operates through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the National Park Service owns the tracks used by the CVSR

The Park Service is among the federal agencies that shut down as Congress wrangles over approving a budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Other railroad-related sites affected are the Steamtown National Historic Site, the Golden Spike National Historic Site, and the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. In all, 401 National Park Service facilities have been shuttered.

The CVSR said in a statement on its website that decisions to cancel service will be made at 3 p.m. the day before and will continue to be made on a day-to-day basis.

Those who have purchased tickets for excursions in the next few days will be contacted after 3 p.m. the day before their scheduled trip and offered to be rescheduled or to have their money refunded.

Also affected by the shutdown are the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration. More than 30 percent of U.S. Department of Transportation employees are not reporting to work.

That included about half of the employees of the FRA, although members of the safety staff will stay on the job.

The shutdown will create delays in operational reimbursements for transit agencies across the country.

Although many NTSB’s employees are on involuntary furlough, a contingency plan has some services still in operation, including launching investigations into major accidents involving significant casualties, certain other accidents when failure to proceed with the investigation creates a significant risk to transportation safety, and investigation activities and report production that are needed to prevent the imminent potential for loss of life and significant property damage.

Amtrak continues to operate as usual. On Monday it released a statement saying it would continue with normal operations. “Passengers planning to travel on Amtrak trains in the Northeast Corridor and across the country in the coming days and weeks can be assured that Amtrak will remain open for business,” the company said.

In an unrelated matter, the CVSR said that tickets are currently on sale for The Polar Express, which will run Nov. 15 through Dec. 20.

CVSR customer service can be reached at cvsr@cvsr.com or at 800-468-4070, extension 3.