Welcome to Transportation Law Today

Managed by Paul J. Loftus, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Transportation Law Today provides professionals in the rail, transit, inland maritime, and trucking industries with current news and analysis of laws, rulings, and regulatory policies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FRA Proposed Rule on Postive Train Control Announced as Regulatory Reform

The Federal Railroad Administration published a proposed rule today eliminating the need for railroads to conduct risk analysis for certain tracks that will not have Positive Train Control (PTC). Positive Train Control, an automated system to prevent train collisions, was mandated by the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) following several high-profile accidents. The PTC rule published in 2010 generally required PTC on tracks carrying PIH (poison by inhalation) traffic and inter-city passenger traffic. Under the original process, railroads could avoid installing PTC on certain tracks if risk analyses were performed.

The proposed revision to the PTC rule eliminates the requirement that risk a analysis be performed on track that will not carry PIH traffic or regular passenger service as of December 31, 2015.

An interesting side note to the issuance of the proposed revision is that the revised rule appears to be both the product of both a legal challenge to the PTC rule by the Association of American Railroads (AAR), and the Administration-mandated regulatory review. The AAR challenged the original regulation's risk analysis test and baseline assumptions made by the FRA. According the USDOT's press release, the newly proposed rule is part of the Administration's efforts to provide "regulatory releif." Today's NPRM, however, is also the result of a settlement agreement between the FRA and AAR over the challenged regulation. The comment period on the NPRM is open until October 24, 2011.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Appeals Court Rules Requires Only Possibility of Absestos Exposure to Fine Employer

Today we venture from Transportation for an interesting ruling in an asbestos case, a long-standing source of litigation in the Transport industry, and many others.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, recently ruled that an employer can be penalized under OSHA asbestos removal rules without having to show any actual exposure to the substance. The Court's opinion, in Secretary of Labor v. Conoco Phillips Bayway Refinery, case no. 10-2893, held that the Secretary of Labor "must simply demonstrate the possibility" of exposure to harmful levels of asbestos. The presumption of "harm" is based on the conclusion that violation of Class II asbestos requirements alone "expose employees to substantial amounts of asbestos."

An interesting procedural note on this case was that the Third Circuit was resolving different interpretations of USDOL regulations among "two factions of the same government agency." The Secretary of Labor petitioned the Court for a review of the Occupational Safety and Helath Review Commission's decision that the violations were "not serious" as opposed to "serious" as the Secretary originally determined.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Norfolk Southern To Build New Rail Line to Port of Toledo

Norfolk Southern Railway Corp., according to development officials, will begin new rail service to the Port of Toledo, OH. According to the media report attached here, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority states the goal is to make the Port of Toledo the largest land port on the Great Lakes and relieve shipping back-logs in Detroit and Chicago. Here is a link the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSX Announces $15 Million Investment for Louisville Intermodal Terminal

CSX Transportation, Inc. recently announced the construction of a $15 million privately-funded intermodal freight terminal in Louisville, KY. The terminal is expected to be operational in early 2012. The new facility will be constructed between CSXT's existing Osborne Yard and the Louisville Industrial Center near the Louisville International Airport.