Digest: FRA issues new rule on track inspections

News Wire Digest fourth section for Aug. 28: UP names interim VP and chief legal officer; support for Reading-Philadelphia commuter proposal
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More Friday afternoon rail news:

FRA issues rule on track inspections

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a final rule allowing railroads to use ultrasonic and global positioning system technology to conduct continuous rail testing. The rule will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The new rule allows rail testing vehicles to conduct tests without stopping to verify potential flaws, instead permitting test data to be analyzed at a central location with subsequent verification of potential flaws. In a press release, the FRA says the current rule limits testing to about 20 miles of track per day, and often leads to delays for freight and passenger trains. The new rule should allow testing of 80 to 120 miles per day. The rule also includes longstanding waivers regarding track frogs, and removes an exception to track-inspection requirements that had previously been granted to high-density commuter lines. All freight and passenger lines are now subject to the same inspection requirements. The 124-page unofficial version of the final rule is available here.

UP names Richardson as interim executive VP and chief legal officer (updated)
Union Pacific has named Craig Richardson as interim executive vice president and chief legal officer, succeeding Rhonda Ferguson. Richardson was previously UP’s vice president of commercial and regulatory law, and has also served as associate general counsel. He will oversee all aspects of the company’s legal affairs, including commercial transactions, litigation, labor, and regulatory matters. Reuters reports Ferguson is joining Allstate Copr.

Commissioners voice support for Reading-Philadelphia commuter rail proposal
The Board of Commissioners of Lower Pottsgrove, Pa., has endorsed a proposal to launch commuter rail service between Reading, Pa., and Philadelphia. The Sanatoga Post reports commissioners voted unanimously to have township manager Ed Wagner write a letter in support of the effort by Berks Alliance, a community development organization which has said revival of the long-abandoned rail service could have an economic development value of more than $1 billion. Lower Pottsgrove is about halfway between Reading and Philadelphia on the proposed route.

— Updated at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28 with details on new position for former UP executive Rhonda Ferguson.

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