Washington, DC – Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in response to the Federal Railroad Administration rejecting a request from Kansas City Southern Railway to conduct safety-sensitive brake tests in Mexico:
“We learned yesterday that the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) denied a request by Kansas City Southern Railroad (KCSR) to outsource safety-sensitive brake tests to Mexico. In its decision, the FRA correctly told KCSR that their request — which TTD and our rail unions strongly opposed — was ‘not in the public interest or consistent with railroad safety.’ We could not agree more.
KCSR is already exempt from conducting full brake tests at the border with Mexico before entering the U.S. Since 2008, the carrier has been allowed to conduct minimal brake tests at the border so long as it conducts its major brake tests in Laredo, Texas. Allowing KCSR to outsource this already less rigorous border inspection would have further removed government oversight and undermined existing safety protocols.
The FRA’s decision is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.
Last year, the FRA granted KCSR permission to operate trains with crews from Mexico to Laredo, nine miles across the border. This decision was made without input from the public or any guarantee U.S. safety standards are being met. In fact, current regulations allow foreign crews operating in the U.S. to avoid random drug and alcohol testing, and there is no proof crews from Mexico are meeting the same certification and training requirements as American crews.
These dangerous practices cannot continue. We call on the FRA to uphold its commitment to cross-border rail safety and security. The pursuit of profits cannot and must not run roughshod over maintaining safety standards and protecting good jobs.”