The employees would not be shielded from discipline or an FRA enforcement action if an identifiable hazmat spill is involved.

Amtrak to Pilot Close Call Reporting System

The passenger rail company and two of its unions have agreed to conduct the project for five years on tracks in parts of Boston, New Haven, Long Island City, N.Y., Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

About 1,400 yard, road service, and yardmaster employees of Amtrak will participate in a five-year confidential close call reporting system that the Federal Railroad Administration described in a Federal Register notice on Tuesday. Amtrak has requested a waiver so the employees won't be penalized by FRA or disciplined by Amtrak for violating 49 CFR 240.117(e)(1) through (4), 240.305, and 240.307, which require close calls to be reported.

The employees would not be shielded from discipline or an FRA enforcement action in these situations, however:

  • The employee's action or lack of action was intended to damage Amtrak or another entity's operations or equipment or to injure other individuals, or the employee's action or lack of action purposely places others in danger (e.g., sabotage).
  • The employee's action or lack of action involved a criminal offense.
  • The employee's behavior involved substance abuse or the inappropriate use of controlled substances.
  • The event resulted in any type of train accident, regardless of monetary damages.
  • The event caused or is alleged to have caused any injury, illness, or medical treatment of any kind to any person involved in the event.
  • The event resulted in an identifiable release of a hazardous material.
  • The event was a real-time observation made by an FRA-certified inspector or railroad employee and was reported to and verified by Amtrak management, except as provided in Article 6.4.

The passenger rail company and two of its unions have agreed to conduct the project for five years on tracks in parts of Boston, New Haven, Long Island City, N.Y., Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

FRA in its notice said Amtrak and the two unions (the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the United Transportation Union) signed the agreement May 11, 2010, and believe the data from the reported close call incidents "will be invaluable in analysis and development of effective corrective actions. Without the requested waiver of sanctions and exemption from mandatory revocation of the engineer's certificate," it added, "the employees involved in the incidents described above will not file a report of the incidents. The incidents will likely go undetected and there will be no opportunity for analysis, data trending, or appropriate corrective actions."

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