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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The New Hours of Service Law goes into effect July 16, 2009 at 00:01. Here is a summary of the new regulation.

● A railroad may NOT require or allow a Train & Engine Service (T&ES) employee to
remain or go on duty in any month where the employee had spent a total of 276
hours in any one or a combination of the following activities: on duty, waiting for
transportation, in deadhead transportation to a place of final release, or in any
other mandatory service for the carrier.
This means the combination of on-duty time, limbo time, waiting for deadhead
transportation, deadhead time, and any other time spent in mandatory service (which may
include rules training time, medical examinations).
Once you serve 276 hours in any month, the carrier may not require or allow you to go on
duty, remain on duty, wait for deadhead transportation, be in deadhead transportation or in
any other mandatory service for the remainder of the month.
If the carrier does not take you out of service prior to exceeding the 276 hour monthly cap,
or if the carrier attempts to put you in service where you would violate the 276 hour cap,
you must take yourself out of service under the law.
Once the 276 hour cap is met in any month, you may not report for duty again prior to
12:01 a.m. of the first day of the next calendar month.
A call to report for duty, followed by a release, whereby the employee does not go on duty,
is not counted against hours of service. However, the time spent travelling to a point of duty
assignment other than a regular reporting point constitutes deadheading to duty and counts
as time on duty.
The FRA is required to revise its rules in advance of July 2009 to require the carrier to keep
paper or electronic records detailing each T&ES employee’s hours per month.

● A T&ES employee may NOT remain or go on duty for a period in excess of 12
consecutive hours.
If a combination of on-duty time and limbo time exceeds 12 hours, the employee must
receive 10 hours of undisturbed rest, PLUS the number of hours of limbo time that exceeded
the 12 hours on duty. Thus, a 12 hour shift and two hours of limbo time would require 12
hours of undisturbed rest before again reporting for duty.

● A T&ES employee may NOT remain or go on duty UNLESS the employee has had
at least 10 consecutive hours undisturbed rest off duty during the prior 24 hours.
Undisturbed rest means just what is says. The carrier may not telephone the employee,
page the employee, knock on the door of the employee, or otherwise disturb the employee
for 10 hours.
The carrier may, however, send an e-mail message to the employee during this time period.
But the carrier may not disturb the employee with a return-to-duty call until after the 10
hour period.
As noted above, if the on-duty time plus limbo time exceeded 12 hours, the 10-hour
undisturbed rest time is increased by the number of hours of limbo time.
There is an exception during emergencies, and, also, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation
may waive this section for intercity and commuter service if it is consistent with safety.

● A T&ES employee may NOT remain on duty or go on duty AFTER that employee
has initiated an on-duty period each day for six consecutive days, unless that
employee has had at least 48 consecutive hours off duty at the employee's home
terminal, during which time the employee is unavailable for any service.
This means when you complete the sixth consecutive start day, you must be given at least
48 consecutive hours (not calendar days, but 48 consecutive hours) off duty at your home
terminal before you are again required to report for work. This includes yard assignments.
However, if you are released from duty at the away from home terminal at the end of the
sixth consecutive start day, you may work a seventh consecutive start day to return to your
home terminal. Then, however, you must be given at least 72 consecutive hours (not three
calendar days, but 72 consecutive hours) off duty at your home terminal before you are
again required to report for work.
If the 276 hour cap occurs on the last day of the month, and you have not completed your
mandatory 48 (or 72) consecutive hours off duty at your home terminal, you MUST
complete that mandatory time off before again reporting for duty.
If the 276 hour cap occurs at an away from home terminal, the railroad may NOT deadhead
you back to your home terminal, as that would violate the law. The FRA must yet determine
the manner in which you are returned to your home terminal.
The trigger is initiating an on-duty start for six consecutive days. Even if you work just one
hour, the fact that you have initiated an on-duty start that day counts toward the six
consecutive days.
However, the count begins anew on any calendar day in which you do NOT initiate an onduty
period. Thus, if you are called for duty Monday-Friday (five start days), and do not
work on Saturday, but are called back to work on Sunday, then the six-day clock begins
anew on Sunday.
The clock covers all T&ES jobs, meaning it does not matter if you ebb and flow between
engineer and conductor jobs. The only trigger is initiating an on-duty period as a T&ES employee.

For complete details of the entire Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 go to

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