The Department of Transportation is working on changes in rail regulations that could save the industry more than $1 billion over the next two decades.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in his Fastlane blog that limits in implementing automated collision avoidance systems, known as positive train control, could save $225 million to $400 million in installation costs, and up to $1 billion over 20 years counting maintenance.
LaHood made the comments as the White House unveiled an administration-wide, updated list of regulation cuts it is targeting to lower costs on industry, ending outmoded rules or reconsidering regulations that are yet to be applied.
For railroads, the biggest single benefits would come from curbing the scope of initial regulations on PTC issued by Federal Railroad Administration, something the agency was considering after the railroad industry challenged its rule in court.
“The FRA has examined this rule and decided that revisions could be proposed that would significantly reduce industry burdens without adversely affecting rail safety,” LaHood said.
Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, said, “We are pleased to see the administration continues to move forward with its review of federal regulations that stymie U.S. economic recovery and future growth.”
He said the AAR in March 2010 filed suit to challenge some aspects of the PTC regulations, and earlier this year, the parties asked the court to put the suit on hold while the FRA agreed to undertake a review of its rule.
The FRA would have required the costly equipment to be installed based on 2008 traffic, and what the industry says would be an extra 10,000 miles of track for certain hazardous materials loads that would no longer be hauling those cargoes by the Dec. 31, 2015, deadline.
Separately, the FRA is considering whether to double the required interval for locomotive inspections to 184 days from the current 92 days. The industry said this could save $42 million a year in lost locomotive time and another $18 million in shop labor cost.