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BLET Weekly News Recap, 1-19-24
Jan 19, 2024

The BLET exists to promote and protect the rights, interests, and safety of its members through solidarity, aggressive representation, and education.


January 19, 2024

Follow the BLET online and stay up-to-date on all the latest union news and information.
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FRA’s proposed regulation moves forward

Although exact wording hasn’t been made public, it’s been reported that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has submitted its final rule on train crew size to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.
According to transportation industry publication Freight Waves, the final rule may potentially be released in March. Prior to becoming a final rule, proposed federal regulations are required to go to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. That process typically takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days.
The BLET, its members, and other rail labor unions filed comments in support of two-person train crews during the public comment period that began in 2022. It is unclear at this time how the final rule may differ from the proposed rule, which was published in the Federal Register on July 28, 2022.

Update on the bipartisan Railway Safety Act
Senator Sherrod Brown: “It’s long past time Congress stood up to the rail lobbyists and passed the bipartisan Railway Safety Act, to ensure a disaster like what happened in East Palestine does not happen again.”
News organizations are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he will schedule a vote this year for the bipartisan Railway Safety Act. Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) are the lead sponsors. The two senators introduced the bill following Norfolk Southern’s February 2023 derailment and toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio. The legislation would require two-person crews for most freight trains and would substantially increase fines for safety violations, along with tougher safety standards for trains carrying hazardous materials as well as other reforms.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) and other railroad industry lobbyists have pushed back on significant safety provisions in the bill, particularly the mandate for two-person train crews. Railroads have been criticized for putting profits ahead of safety.
Senator Brown recently told a West Virginia newspaper, The Intelligencer, “It’s long past time Congress stood up to the rail lobbyists and passed the bipartisan Railway Safety Act, to ensure a disaster like what happened in East Palestine does not happen again.”
Democrats have a 51-seat majority in the Senate and every member of their caucus is expected to support the measure. Republican co-sponsors include Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Roger Marshall (Kan.). Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt (Mo.) voted for the bill in committee and is expected to do so again if it reaches the floor. Vance has said that two other Republican senators have promised him they’ll vote for the legislation, though they’re staying anonymous for now. Sixty votes are needed for the legislation to withstand a filibuster and move forward.
“We’ve had commitments from the majority leader for a while that we would get a vote on it. I think we’re now talking about floor time and what might actually happen,” Vance told The Hill newspaper, adding “we’re at least progressing.”
For more information click on this link to The Intelligencer:
BLET to hold S-T class for LM-2 filers
The BLET Education and Training Department will conduct a workshop for all Secretary-Treasurers who file LM-2 reports for their General Committee of Adjustment, Local Division or State Legislative Board. This workshop will be held at the BLET National Division Headquarters in Independence, Ohio, during the week of February 26, 2024. In-person and remote training sessions are available.
Full-day classes will run from Tuesday, February 27 through Thursday, February 29. Hotel check-in/travel day is Monday, February 26 and hotel check-out/travel day is Friday, March 1. In addition to the in-person training, this class will also be available to include remote participants in a hybrid training setting during the classes on Tuesday, February 27 and Wednesday, February 28.
All participants (both in-person and remote) must register for the class at:
For more information, visit the National Division website.

Financial aid is available to the dependents of BLET members

If you or a family member are looking for scholarship opportunities, don’t delay. Deadlines are quickly approaching. Check back often for any updates.
BLET members and their dependents seeking academic scholarships are encouraged to explore the 2024 BLET Scholarship Directory, a resource for a variety of financial aid programs. If you or a family member are looking for scholarship opportunities, don’t delay. Deadlines are quickly approaching.
Each year, the BLET National Division provides members and their families with a list of scholarship programs to consider. The National Division itself does not maintain its own scholarship program, nor does it oversee or otherwise play any role in the administration of any programs included in this directory. Interested parties are advised to contact the scholarship providers for additional information. Those aware of additional scholarship opportunities not included in this directory are urged to contact the BLET Public Relations Department at:
The 2024 BLET Scholarship Directory can be found at this link:
BLET members ratify CSXT-Springfield Terminal implementing agreement
On January 15, a majority of members from BLET Divisions 72 and 191 ratified an implementing agreement regarding CSX Transportation’s acquisition of the Springfield Terminal Railway (a Pan Am Railway affiliate). The agreement covers approximately 30 BLET members and addresses changes in operations and the merging of workforces following the acquisition. The CSXT/BLET Single System Agreement is now the applicable collective bargaining agreement for locomotive engineers formerly employed by Springfield Terminal.
Members of the BLET negotiating team included General Chairman Kevin Moore (STR-DH-SLR-MMA), Vice General Chairman Matt LaFrenier (STR-DH-SLR-MMA), General Chairman Pat Driscoll (Conrail/CSXT Northern District), General Chairman Brian Farkas (CSXT-Northern Lines), National Vice President Alan Holdcraft, and National Vice President Randy Fannon.
In late 2020, CSXT announced plans to acquire the Pan Am Railways system, which operates throughout New England, for $601 million. The Surface Transportation Board approved the acquisition in April of 2022.
Two-person crew bill moving along
From left: BLET Nebraska SLB Chairman Pat Pfeifer meets with FRA Administrator Amit Bose. Photo from the North Platte Bulletin
BLET Nebraska State Legislative Board Chairman Pat Pfeifer reports that a rail safety bill is currently making its way through the state legislature. The bill, LB 31, would require two-person train crews on freight trains in Nebraska. Brother Pfeifer said State Senator Mike Jacobson has prioritized the bill, and that the Transportation Committee will consider it next week. If approved by the Transportation Committee, the bill will advance to the full floor for debate. While all of rail labor stands behind the safety bill, Brother Pfeifer said corporate lobbyists from Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe are working to oppose it.
FRA approves new Avelia Liberty trains for on-track testing
Amtrak's new Avelia Liberty trains have been cleared by the FRA to begin testing on the Northeast Corridor.
Amtrak is one step closer to bringing its new Avelia Liberty trains to the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak said on January 12 that the new trains had passed an extended series of computer modeling tests and have now been cleared by the Federal Railroad Administration to begin testing on the Northeast Corridor.
The Avelia Liberty trains will replace Amtrak’s Acela trains. The Avelia trains will travel at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour, 10 miles per hour faster than the Acela, and will tilt for a faster and smoother ride around curves. They can accommodate up to 386 passengers, an increase of 25 percent.
Alstom, the French manufacturer of the new trains, has encountered setbacks in production and testing, which has delayed roll out of the new trains by three years.
The New York Times reported on FRA’s approval of the new train sets on January 13, 2024. The article is behind a paywall:

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131

PH (216) 241-2630   |

If you are a member of the BLET, then please consider signing up for the Members’ Area of the BLET website:  

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen · 7061 East Pleasant Valley Road · Independence, OH 44131 · USA

BLE-T Division 622

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