49 U.S. Code § 20162 - Minimum training standards and plans

(a) In General.—The Secretary of Transportation shall, not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, establish—
(1)
minimum training standards for each class and craft of safety-related railroad employee (as defined in section 20102) and equivalent railroad carrier contractor and subcontractor employees, which shall require railroad carriers, contractors, and subcontractors to qualify or otherwise document the proficiency of such employees in each such class and craft regarding their knowledge of, and ability to comply with, Federal railroad safety laws and regulations and railroad carrier rules and procedures promulgated to implement those Federal railroad safety laws and regulations;
(2)
a requirement that railroad carriers, contractors, and subcontractors develop and submit training and qualification plans to the Secretary for approval, including training programs and information deemed necessary by the Secretary to ensure that all safety-related railroad employees receive appropriate training in a timely manner; and
(3)
a minimum training curriculum, and ongoing training criteria, testing, and skills evaluation measures to ensure that safety-related railroad employees, and contractor and subcontractor employees, charged with the inspection of track or railroad equipment are qualified to assess railroad carrier compliance with Federal standards to identify defective conditions and initiate immediate remedial action to correct critical safety defects that are known to contribute to derailments, accidents, incidents, or injuries, and, in implementing the requirements of this paragraph, take into consideration existing training programs of railroad carriers.
(b) Approval.—
The Secretary shall review and approve the plans required under subsection (a)(2) utilizing an approval process required for programs to certify the qualification of locomotive engineers pursuant to part 240 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations.
(c) Exemption.—
The Secretary may exempt railroad carriers and railroad carrier contractors and subcontractors from submitting training plans for which the Secretary has issued training regulations before the date of enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Editorial Notes
References in Text

The date of enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, referred to in subsecs. (a) and (c), is the date of enactment of div. A of Pub. L. 110–432, which was approved Oct. 16, 2008.

Amendments

2015—Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 114–94 substituted “railroad carrier compliance with Federal standards” for “railroad compliance with Federal standards”.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date of 2015 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 114–94 effective Oct. 1, 2015, see section 1003 of Pub. L. 114–94, set out as a note under section 5313 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.

Operating Crew Member Training, Qualification, and Certification

Pub. L. 117–58, div. B, title II, § 22410, Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 740, provided that:

“(a) Audits.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Nov. 15, 2021], the Secretary [of Transportation] shall initiate audits of the training, qualification, and certification programs of locomotive engineers and conductors of railroad carriers, subject to the requirements of parts 240 and 242 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, which audits shall—
“(1)
be conducted in accordance with subsection (b);
“(2)
consider whether such programs are in compliance with such parts 240 and 242;
“(3)
assess the type and content of training that such programs provide locomotive engineers and conductors, relevant to their respective roles, including training related to installed technology;
“(4)
determine whether such programs provide locomotive engineers and conductors the knowledge, skill, and ability to safely operate a locomotive or train, consistent with such parts 240 and 242;
“(5)
determine whether such programs reflect the current operating practices of the railroad carrier;
“(6)
assess the current practice by which railroads utilize simulator training, or any other technologies used to train and qualify locomotive engineers and conductors by examining how such technologies are used;
“(7)
consider international experience and practice using similar technology, as appropriate, particularly before qualifying locomotive engineers on new or unfamiliar equipment, new train control, diagnostics, or other on-board technology;
“(8)
assess the current practice for familiarizing locomotive engineers and conductors with new territory and using recurrency training to expose such personnel to normal and abnormal conditions; and
“(9)
ensure that locomotive engineers and conductor training programs are considered separately, as appropriate, based on the unique requirements and regulations.
“(b) Audit Scheduling.—The Secretary shall—
“(1) schedule the audits required under subsection (a) to ensure that—
“(A)
each Class I railroad, including the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and other intercity passenger rail providers, is audited not less frequently than once every 5 years; and
“(B)
a select number, as determined appropriate by the Secretary, of Class II and Class III railroads, along with other railroads providing passenger rail service that are not included in subparagraph (A), are audited annually; and
“(2)
conduct the audits described in paragraph (1)(B) in accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 [title II of Pub. L. 104–121] (5 U.S.C. 601 note) and appendix C of part 209 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations.
“(c) Updates to Qualification and Certification Program.—
If the Secretary, while conducting the audits required under this section, identifies a deficiency in a railroad’s training, qualification, and certification program for locomotive engineers or conductors, the railroad shall update the program to eliminate such deficiency.
“(d) Consultation and Cooperation.—
“(1) Consultation.—
In conducting any audit required under this section, the Secretary shall consult with the railroad and its employees, including any nonprofit employee labor organization representing the engineers or conductors of the railroad.
“(2) Cooperation.—The railroad and its employees, including any nonprofit employee labor organization representing engineers or conductors of the railroad, shall fully cooperate with any such audit, including by—
“(A)
providing any relevant documents requested; and
“(B)
making available any employees for interview without undue delay or obstruction.
“(3) Failure to cooperate.—
If the Secretary determines that a railroad or any of its employees, including any nonprofit employee labor organization representing engineers or conductors of the railroad is not fully cooperating with an audit, the Secretary shall electronically notify the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.
“(e) Review of Regulations.—The Secretary shall triennially determine whether any update to part 240 or 242 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, is necessary to better prepare locomotive engineers and conductors to safely operate trains by evaluating whether such regulations establish appropriate Federal standards requiring railroads—
“(1)
to provide locomotive engineers or conductors the knowledge and skills to safely operate trains under conditions that reflect industry practices;
“(2)
to adequately address locomotive engineer or conductor route situational awareness, including ensuring locomotive engineers and conductors to demonstrate knowledge on the physical characteristics of a territory under various conditions and using various resources;
“(3)
to provide relevant and adequate hands-on training before a locomotive engineer or conductor is certified;
“(4)
to adequately prepare locomotive engineers or conductors to understand relevant locomotive operating characteristics, to include instructions on functions they are required to operate on any installed technology; and
“(5)
to address any other safety issue that the Secretary determines to be appropriate for better preparing locomotive engineers or conductors.
“(f) Annual Report.—The Secretary shall publish an annual report on the public website of the Federal Railroad Administration that—
“(1)
summarizes the findings of the prior year’s audits;
“(2)
summarizes any updates made pursuant to subsection (c); and
“(3)
excludes and confidential business information or sensitive security information.”
Report and Regulations on Certification of Certain Crafts or Classes of Employees

Pub. L. 110–432, div. A, title IV, § 402(b)–(d), Oct. 16, 2008, 122 Stat. 4884, provided that, not later than 6 months after promulgating regulations under this section, the Secretary was to issue a report to Congress about whether the certification of certain crafts or classes of railroad carrier or railroad carrier contractor or subcontractor employees was necessary to reduce the number and rate of accidents and incidents or to improve railroad safety and that the Secretary could prescribe regulations requiring the certification of certain crafts or classes of employees that the Secretary determined necessary to reduce accidents and incidents or to improve railroad safety.

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