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FRA Proposes Revisions to Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness Regulations.  The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would clarify certain requirements of the existing emergency preparedness standards for passenger trains, and address issues that have arisen since the regulations were issued in May 1998.  The changes would ensure that railroad personnel who communicate and coordinate with first responders during emergency situations receive initial and periodic training and are subject to operational efficiency tests and inspections; clarify that railroads must develop procedures in their emergency preparedness plans addressing the safe evacuation of passengers with disabilities during an emergency situation; limit the need for FRA to formally approve purely administrative changes to approved emergency preparedness plans; and specify new operational efficiency testing and inspection requirements for both operating and non-operating employees for railroads.  The proposed requirements are based on recommendations from FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s (RSAC) General Passenger Safety Task Force.  Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposed rule by August 27, 2012.  Contact: Kevin Thompson: (202) 493-6024.

FRA Announces Notice of Intent for Tier 1 Environmental Study for Northeast Corridor, Launches Website for NEC Future.  The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate potential passenger rail improvements on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington, D.C. and Boston, Mass.  FRA is leading the planning and environmental evaluation of the NEC, an effort known as NEC Future, in close coordination with the involved states, the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission (NEC Commission), Amtrak and other stakeholders.  The purpose of the NEC Future program is to define current and future markets for improved rail service and capacity on the NEC, to develop a plan to incrementally meet those needs, and to create a regional planning framework to engage stakeholders throughout the region in the development of the program.  NEC Future’s activities include the development of a Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP) to provide the data necessary to support an FRA decision to fund and implement major investments.  A PRCIP is comprised of two components: a Tier 1 EIS and a Service Development Plan.  NEC Future has created a website for more information at  Contact: Kevin Thompson: (202) 493-6024.

United States, Sierra Leone Reach Open-Skies Aviation Agreement.  The United States and Sierra Leone have successfully negotiated an Open-Skies aviation agreement, the first aviation agreement between the two countries.  Open Skies will allow the airlines of both countries to fly to, from, and beyond the other’s territory, without restriction on how often carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use, and the prices that they charge.  The agreement will make Sierra Leone the 107th U.S. Open-Skies partner.  Contact: Bill Mosley: (202) 366-4570.

Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012
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