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ATLP Passenger Rail Update

In this passenger rail update we cover the Federal Railroad Administration’s (“FRA”) new regulations concerning fatigue management and FRA’s introduction of the new intercity passenger Corridor Identification and Development Program. We also provide an update on the Amtrak Gulf Coast proceedings currently pending before the Surface Transportation Board (“STB” or “Board”).

FRA Amends Regulations to Implement Statutory Requirements for Fatigue Management

Pursuant to the requirements of Section 103 of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“RSIA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20156, on June 13, 2022, FRA issued a Notice of Final Rule in the Federal Register requiring that certain railroads include “fatigue management plans” in their safety risk reduction plans (87 Fed. Reg. 35,660).  This requirement applies specifically to Class I railroads, railroads that have been deemed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to have inadequate safety performance, and intercity passenger and commuter railroads.  Under current FRA regulations, Class I railroads and those deemed to have inadequate safety performance are required to submit Risk Reduction Program (“RRP”) plans to the FRA while intercity passenger and commuter railroads are required to submit System Safety Program (“SSP”) plans.  However, Section 20156 also requires that fatigue management plans be included in a railroad’s safety risk reduction plan (either an RRP or SSP), which had not previously been included in the applicable regulations (49 C.F.R. Part 270 and Part 271), thus prompting this rulemaking.



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Passenger Rail Update

In this edition of the Passenger Rail Highlight we cover recent updates and guidance from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regarding implementation of changes to requirements for federal transit funding recipients and applicants provided under the recently passed Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, Public Law 117-58 (IIJA). First, FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez issued a Dear Colleague Letter reminding transit agencies of new requirements regarding the establishment of Safety Committees. FTA also issued new proposed guidance regarding its Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, while signaling more comprehensive changes to CIG policy guidance on the horizon.

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Passenger Rail Update

Introduction

In this Passenger Rail Update we mark Congress’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November last year, which provides a range of passenger rail funding opportunities. We also note Amtrak’s announced support for the proposed merger between the Canadian Pacific (“CP”) and the Kansas City Southern (“KCS”) Class I railroads, which is currently pending before the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”). Finally, we review a recent Illinois federal district court case discussing whether a freight railroad’s common carrier obligation includes the obligation to provide passenger rail service (spoiler alert—the court held that it does not).

(The authors note at the outset that they represent the Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority, d/b/a Metra, as a party in the CP-KCS merger proceedings before the STB in FD No. 36500, and as Metra’s outside rail counsel in the Illinois district court case discussed below.)



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Passenger Rail Update

Introduction

This edition of the Commuter Rail Update delves into a recent decision issued by the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) concerning cost allocation between Regional Transportation Authority’s Commuter Rail Division (“Metra”) and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) for use of Amtrak’s Chicago Union Station. We also highlight New Jersey Transit’s award of a $1.6 billion contract to conduct a much-needed replacement of the Portal North Bridge connecting New Jersey to New York City.

Surface Transportation Board Issues Decision in Dispute Between Amtrak and City of Chicago Over Access to the Chicago Union Station



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PASSENGER RAIL UPDATE: Policy Play: State and Local Governments Voice Growing Support for Passenger Rail

In recent weeks, several states and cities have launched efforts aimed at growing passenger rail nationwide and encouraging funding for various rail projects at the state and federal level.  Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 238 creating a new taxing district to support passenger service from Fort Collins to Pueblo with connections to Wyoming in the North and New Mexico in the South.  The bill provides funding for start-up costs for the line. 

In Northern California, the Link21 program aims to “transform Northern California’s passenger rail network into a faster, more integrated system.”  The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) hosted a virtual workshop on July 15 to get public input on the project. 

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ATLP Association Highlights: Passenger Rail Update

Recent news in the passenger rail transportation regulatory realm includes the following:

• Amtrak asks STB to Order Class I’s to Add Trains Along Gulf Coast
• US DOT Increases Passenger Rail Liability Cap
• FRA Issues Emergency Order Requiring Masks in Railroad Operations

Read on for details.





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TSA Issues Security Directive Ordering Masks to be Worn on Public Transportation Systems

The Biden Administration has issued a number of directives to public transportation providers, including operators of passenger rail service, directing operating entities to require that all persons working in their systems or using their services wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  While these directives provide that any individual who fails to comply with the mask mandate will violate federal law, the directives make public transportation providers responsible for requiring masks, but do not specify a mechanism for enforcing those requirements.  As the directives stand as of the date of this blog entry, the policy goal is clear and the directives identify various means for penalizing public transportation providers who fail to adhere to the requirements – but they do not specify an enforcement regime. We expect TSA and FTA will issue further guidance, so watch this space.

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ATLP Association Highlights: PASSENGER RAIL UPDATE

Introduction

Recent news in the passenger rail transportation regulatory field includes the following:

♦   FRA Awards $47.5M to CRISI Grant to NCDOT
♦   FRA Plans Releases Final Rule of Particular Applicability and Record of Decision for Texas Central Railroad
♦   Massachusetts’ Lawmakers Push for State Acquisition of Pan Am Railways
♦   Colorado Receives Funding for Passenger Rail Study
♦   Montana Hosts Virtual Rail Passenger Summit

Read on for details.









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STB Determines that Texas Central Passenger Railroad Is Subject to its Jurisdiction

A proposed high-speed passenger railroad between Dallas and Houston has successfully convinced the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) that it has jurisdiction over the proposed Texas rail line. While STB jurisdiction will greatly aid the rail line by generally preempting state and local regulation, the STB's order has added federal requirements that will have to be addressed. FD 36025 (STB Served July 16, 2020)

Texas Central Railroad and Infrastructure Inc. and its subsidiary, Texas Central Railroad LLC (Texas Central), had lost an initial effort to secure federal jurisdiction over its planned line of railroad in 2016. That's when the STB found that Texas Central's operation, as then presented, would be purely in intrastate commerce. With this most recent decision, the STB rules that Texas Central's new plans will make it part of the "interstate rail network" and place it squarely in the realm of interstate commerce and the STB's exclusive jurisdiction.

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Passenger Rail Update

Introduction
 
            The passenger rail sphere has seen a number of developments in the spring of 2020 on the regulatory and funding fronts, including:

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December 2019 - Passenger Rail Update

Introduction

The passenger rail sphere has seen a number of developments in the fall of 2019 on the regulatory, legislative and commercial fronts, including:

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