Government Shutdowns And How They Impact Freight Railroads

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What is a government shutdown?

It’s what happens when America goes on strike. Essentially, if the Congress can’t get along, many appropriations budgets, including that of freight rail operations. The railroads, as are, may keep running as they ship parts, materials and goods all through North America and even to and from the various coastal ports. But that’s not the only thing that matters. It’s also about ensuring that the safest operations will occur with the help of the Association of American Railroads or AAR.

As Freight railroads still operate, it’s not to say the industry won’t be free of the negative aspects of a shutdown. To make grade crossings better built and to stretch out intermodal facilities would likely lead to a stall, since each of those projects need federal funding, as grant processing at the Federal Railroad Administration would likely be the cause of a shutdown.

Retirement benefits from underneath the Railroad Retirement Act would likely continue, while any and all legal, financial, and administrative or even information technology activities, unrelated to the benefits payments could possibly “cease through a lapse.”

Congress on a Government Shutdown spells “B-A-D-N-E-W-S” for Freight Railroads.

About 30% of full-timers on the Railroad Retirement Board themselves would likely be affected by a government shutdown, as the remainder could be deemed for essential employees or exempt, simply because the salaries and budget had arrived from different funding sources, besides annual appropriations.

Of course, the shutdown could as easily hit the rail safety rulemaking and economic rulemaking very heavily, especially in the months following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Any such derailment using rail cars could be dangerous as they involve hazardous materials.

Any sort of government shut downs could pause rulemaking for freight railroads entirely. And that could prove problematic, given that many deal with crew size mandates and safety. Plus, there’s a genuine need to incorporate safer culture all around the railroads so that the necessary actions can be enacted to keep them safe enough to stop accidents from happening.

Congress may start the government shutdown because they need to refocus their efforts on passing a proper budget. And this could be problematic for rail safety legislation especially, given that this would also be stalled by Congress.



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