Feds delay alcohol, drug regs for railroad workers

Federal regulators are putting the brakes on new alcohol and drug regulations for railroad maintenance workers.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed new testing requirements for railroad track workers in July but said Wednesday it is extending the comment period at the request of industry groups.

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The FRA has had drug and alcohol regulations in place for some railroad employees, such as conductors, engineers and dispatchers, for decades. But the agency is looking to expand the rules to include track workers.

They would be subject to random drug testing, including testing before employment, after accidents or if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use, the agency said.

"(Track workers) directly affect the safety of railroad operations, because they work on or near railroad tracks, operate on-track or fouling equipment, and assist in directing trains through work areas," the agency wrote.

The delay comes at the request of the American Public Transportation Association, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Association of American Railroads and the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association.

The public has until Nov. 25 to comment.