Summary: S.1539 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in House (05/19/1988)

(Conference report filed in House, H. Rept. 100-637)

Rail Safety Improvement Act of 1988 - Amends the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 to authorize appropriations for FY 1988 through 1990.

Makes it unlawful for any person (including railroad personnel) to fail to comply with any rules prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation. Increases the maximum civil penalty for willful violations from $2,500 to $10,000 (and $20,000 for specified violations). Declares that an individual shall not be deemed to have committed a willful violation when such individual has acted pursuant to the direct order of a railroad official or supervisor, under protest directed to the supervisor.

Authorizes the Secretary to prohibit an individual from performing safety-sensitive functions if such individual's violation of a rule, regulation, order, or standard is shown to make that individual unfit for such functions.

Sets forth a deadline for the Secretary to issue interim and final rules with respect to penalty schedules applicable to railroads and individuals.

Directs the Secretary of Transportation to implement a mandatory licensing program for railroad operators and engineers. Outlines the requirements of such program. Entitles individuals who have been denied an operator's license to an administrative hearing. Provides that an individual who has been convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance will not be prohibited from holding a railroad operator's license if such individual has successfully completed a rehabilitation program established by a rail carrier or approved by the Secretary subsequent to such conviction.

Amends the National Driver Registration Act of 1982 to authorize individual access to the National Driver Register for purposes of railroad employment in safety-sensitive functions.

Amends the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 to provide for reasonable damages (including a maximum amount of punitive damages) for employees aggrieved by certain discriminatory practices other than discharge, suspension, or pay reduction. Provides for expediting any proceeding with respect to a dispute, grievance, or claim for discharge or discrimination.

Cites circumstances under which the Secretary is authorized to disclose the name of a railroad employee who has provided information regarding alleged railroad safety violations.

Amends the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 to identify additional Northeast Corridor improvement projects.

Amends the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 to include within the term "railroad": (1) all forms of non-highway ground transportation running on rails or electromagnetic guideways (except for rapid transit operations within an urban area not connected to the general railroad system); (2) metropolitan or suburban rail passenger service (including commuter service operated by the Consolidated Rail Corporation); and (3) high speed ground transportation systems connecting metropolitan areas.

Repeals certain railroad safety directives regarding track safety, oscillating lights, and safety areas.

Confers jurisdiction upon Federal district courts to issue an order to certain individuals, partnerships, or corporations to immediately comply with an order or subpoena issued by the Secretary.

Mandates the use of certain automatic train control systems on all trains operating after April 1, 1990, on the main line of the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, Massachusetts.

Requires the Secretary to conduct a feasibility study regarding automatic train control systems (including satellite relay and transponder systems, on rail corridors on which passengers or hazardous materials are carried) and to report the study results to the Congress by April 1, 1990.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) promulgate regulations within 18 months after enactment of this Act requiring trains to be equipped with event recorders within one year after such regulations are issued; (2) establish a Northeast Corridor Safety Committee to consult with the Secretary regarding safety improvements in such Corridor; (3) convene a meeting of Northeast Corridor rail carriers regarding freight traffic reduction on such Corridor rail passenger lines; and (4) report to the Congress regarding the status of safety improvement efforts in such Corridor.

Repeals the requirement that the Secretary submit to the President and the Congress a certain comprehensive railroad safety report.

Makes conforming amendments to specified railroad safety Acts with regard to jurisdiction, venue, and civil penalties. Increases from $500 to $1,000 the maximum penalty for violations of the Hours of Service Act.

Amends the Rail Passenger Service Act with respect to the compensation of the president and other officers of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak).

Outlines circumstances under which the Amtrak, or the owner of any facility which presents a danger to Amtrak property, employees, or passengers, may petition the Secretary for relocation assistance or other remedial measures to obviate such danger. Authorizes appropriations.

Amends the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 to direct the Secretary to promulgate regulations and standards regarding the protection of maintenance-of-way employees, including standards for certain bridge safety equipment, and requirements relating to boat usage. Makes conforming amendments to the Hours of Service Act. Directs the Secretary to amend the Code of Federal Regulations to apply blue signals protection to on-track vehicles where rest is provided.

Requires the Federal Railroad Administration to establish, and report to certain congressional committees the results of, specified grade crossing demonstration projects. Authorizes appropriations for grade crossing safety improvements.

Directs the Secretary to promulgate proscriptions against willful tampering with railroad safety or operational monitoring devices. Establishes a civil penalty for railroads operating a track with tampered or disabled monitoring devices. Directs the Secretary to: (1) report to certain congressional committees the results of an inquiry into whether training standards are necessary for train dispatchers; and (2) promulgate standards and regulations regarding signal systems at railroad highway grade crossings.

Mandates that railroad accident reports which assign human error as a factor include an explanatory statement by the employee whose error is alleged.