May 6, 2023 - TRA Newswire - 

A letter from the Subcommittee Chair of Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, Texas Representative Troy Nehls (TX-22) to the Federal Railroad Administration is urging the agency to immediately return to prioritizing the continued testing of Automated Track inspection (ATI) safety technology.

Apparently the FRA, under the Biden Administration, changed course in supporting the growth of automated track inspections over manual visual examinations. The ATI's have been shown to decrease accidents, identigy new safety issues, and free up safety inspectors to focus on other important duties. 

“For decades until this Administration changed its policy, FRA fully supported the continued growth of ATI safety technology through FRA’s Automated Track Inspection Program (ATIP),” Nehls and other members stated in their letter. “Under President Biden, FRA suddenly and without any valid safety reason, began denying waivers for ATI safety use.”

The letter also asked the FRA to specifically approve a waiver requested by BNSF Railway Company. The FRA previously denied this request, but in March, a Federal Appeals Court vacated the agency’s waiver denial. “Moreover, as the agency charged with overseeing and advancing rail safety, the FRA must prioritize innovative safety improvements and embrace the use of ATI safety technology as an essential complement to manual safety inspections.”

“We urge FRA to reverse its dangerous and unfounded waiver denial as soon as possible. We further request that FRA reverse any other previous denials related to ATI safety technology – or similar technology – and revert to the longstanding policy of fully supporting and unconditionally approving waivers to test and use railroad and track safety technologies.”

Nehls was joined by Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), Daniel Webster (FL-11), David Rouzer (NC-07), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Rudy Yakym (IN-02), Brandon Williams (NY-22), Mike Ezell (MS-04), John Duarte (CA-13), and Aaron Bean (FL-04).