April 22, 2014

CHICAGO (April 22)–Following a formal Complaint filed by the SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Board, the Federal Railroad Administration has cited the BNSF Railway for instructing two train crews to continue working beyond the statutory 12-hour limit.

The violations occurred on the company’s Beardstown Subdivision between Galesburg and the St. Louis Metro East area.

The first violation occurred January 6 in connection with northbound train H-MADGAL4-06. The second occurred February 1 and involved train U-MIJELU0-06T. Company supervisors instructed both crews to exceed the HOS to perform covered service.

“These violations were completely avoidable by the carrier,” SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy said. “One was for instructing a crew to violate the HOS to clear another carrier’s trackage and the other was the result of having a crew perform an unnecessary move when it was obvious that the crew was approaching their HOS limit.”

In a March 25 letter to Guy, FRA Region IV Administrator Mike Long said the agency had investigated and sustained the union’s claims.

“FRA has determined that the BNSF did violate the law by instructing the crews to perform covered service after 12 hours of consecutive service,” Long wrote to Guy. “FRA is recommending a violation for each crew member that was instructed to violate the Hours of Service Law.”

“Our union appreciates FRA’s continued attention to these Hours of Service violations,” Guy said. Twelve hours is a pretty cut-and- dried number–you’re either under it or over it. When crews are instructed to perform any kind of service beyond that 12-hour limit we want to be sure the FRA has the necessary information available to render violations.

“At a time when fatigue is still such a factor in railroad operations, it’s disappointing that a carrier would choose to ignore HOS limitations,” Guy said. “Any member who is directed to violate the HOS law is advised, after serving notice to the carrier of a possible violation, to comply with the instruction and report the details to their local Legislative Representative or directly to this office as soon as possible after tie-up.”