24:30(Blumenthal): "The MTA has blood on its hands, but the blame belongs to the federal oversight agency as well. The Federal Railway [sic] Administraton has simply failed to do its job... It has to be held accountable...for the law it failed to apply and enforce."
Will somebody please inform the Senator that the name of the federal agency involved is the Federal RailROAD Administration?
So far we have had NTSB reporting that 8808 passed another train on the Hudson Line at a location that does not exist;
we have had an incorrect identification of the location of the press conference itself;
we have had an assertion that an accident occurred where no such accident took place;
we have had a characterization of an accident that matches none of the accidents investigated;
we have had an assertion that MNR deliberately ignored recommendations of the NTSB;
we have had NTSB providing a cause for the December 1, 2013 accident based on unverifiable assumption;
and now one of the Senator's can't get the name of the regulatory agency right.
If these people were running a railroad...that's a scary thought, so let's just say we're all better off that they aren't.
Usually, when a criminal indictment is issued, the indictment cites the sections of the criminal code that have been violated. We're not talking semantics here. We're talking law. So Mr. Szabo, or FRA's (R as is railROAD) chief counsel should ask the Senator to identify what sections of what law(s) FRA has failed to apply and enforce that have contributed to the deaths of these 6 people and the injury to approximately 140 others.
And we're not talking about "enabling," "facilitating," or creating an atmosphere. We're not talking about failure to provide a requested or required report to Congress. We're talking criminal evidence. "Blood on the hands" means criminal violence has occurred.
An unkind person might tell the Senator to put up or shut up. But that's the thing about being Senator. Nobody's ever unkind.
25:20(Blumenthal): "There were five recommendations on fatigue, two on cameras...all unimplemented and unenforced by the Federal Railway Administration."
You can accuse FRA, the Federal RailROAD Administration of lagging behind on certain issues. Fatigue is not one of those issues. Maybe the Federal Railway Administration has ignored issues of fatigue, but the agency that regulates railroads in the US-- that FRA has not.
FRA has initiated studies and sponsored investigations into fatigue for at least the last twenty years. It has made recommendations to railroads; it has sponsored, co-sponsored, endorsed pilot-projects. And here's a news flash, it has even revised regulations and instituted new requirements in order to mitigate the risk potential in the issue of fatigue. The hours of service law was recently changed to expand its coverage; provide more rest to those covered; and reduce the likelihood of what I like to call circadian arrythmia, where changes of shift put the employee into a fatigued condition.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think if you read 228 Subpart F--Substantive Hours of Service Requirement for Train Employees Engaged in Commuter or Intercity Rail Transportation, adopted in 2011, you'll find some evidence to support my position.
27:16(Blumenthal): [In reference to the death the roadway worker (May 28, 2013) due to unauthorized removal of protection], "There was a requirement for a back-up system to protect workers and that system was never implemented."
Again, there is no such requirement. Unless the Congress chooses to enact recommendations from NTSB into law, if the Federal RailROAD administration does not submit the suggestions to the rule making process, they remain exactly that: recommendations. Does this matter? Yes, because the process by which regulations are themselves required to be vetted, debated, and even amended means all those (theoretically) with interests impacted by the proposed regulation can express those interests, improve the regulation where possible, and reach an understanding as to obligations about to be imposed.
If the Senator is frustrated by the slow, cumbersome, and imperfect nature of the rule-making process, where recommendations are not automatically regulations; where the regulatory agency does not even pursue certain recommendatons because, in its experience, with its expertise, it considers such suggestions unviable in the operating environment of a railroad, I understand. But that does not make the agency a "rogue" agency, a "lawless" organization. We can look back over the last 30 years; we can look at the trend in accidents and injuries; we can look at the regulations enacted and enforced; and we can say, from that evidence, this process has yielded benefits, sustained benefits.
October 31, 2014
Corrected November 1, 2014; section removed.
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