Progress Through Unity

Conductor Certification

Following is a Q&A summary regarding Conductor Certification:

  • Why are Conductors required to be certified?
    In accordance with Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Congress required the Secretary of Transportation to prescribe regulations to establish a program requiring the certification of Train Conductors. This authority was delegated to the Federal Railroad Administration.
  • What are the regulations and where can they be found?
    The regulations can be found under 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 242
  • When will Conductor Certification begin?
    If you are authorized by NJ Transit to perform the duties of Conductor as of January 1, 2012, you are automatically qualified (grandfathered). NJ Transit will issue a certificate to each Conductor by September 1, 2012. Every Conductor initially certified must be recertified by September 1, 2015 and pass the required tests, physical requirements and other qualifications set forth in 49 CFR 242.105. NJ Transit will begin the recertification process starting in the 4th quarter of 2012.
  • What information will be listed on my certificate?
    Each certificate will list the employing railroad (NJ Transit), the certified Conductor’s name, employee ID number, date of birth, type of service qualified (Passenger Conductor), and the signature of the issuing DSPC (Designated Supervisor of Passenger Conductors)
  • Do I have to carry my certificate with me while on duty?
    Yes, A Conductor must have the certificate in his/her possesion while on duty and display the certificate upon request to a representative of the FRA or a State Inspector, an officer of NJ Transit or an officer of another railroad when serving as a Conductor in joint operations.
  • What happens if I lose my certificate?
    If your certificate is lost or destroyed, you must report it immediately to a NJ Transit Transportation Supervisor. A replacement card will be provided as soon as possible at no cost to the Conductor.
  • Is each train required to have a Certified Conductor?
    Yes, with one exception. If the Conductor is removed from the train for a medical, police or other emergency after departing its initial terminal, then it can continue to the first location where the Conductor can be replaced.
  • What if I am called to perform service as a Conductor that I am not qualified for?
    Any Conductor who is notified or called for service which would cause the Conductor to exceed his/her certificate limitations, such as not being qualified on the territory for which called, shall immediately notify NJ Transit that he/she is not authorized to perform the service.
  • Does the definition of Conductor apply to Assistant Conductors, Brakeman or Flagmen?
    No. The employee must perform the defined duties of a Conductor and does not cover other crew members.
  • How frequently must I be recertified?
    Within 36 months of initial certification each Conductor must be recertified. All Conductors must be recertified before September 1, 2015. Thereafter, certified Conductors will be recertified every 3 years.
  • If I plan to retire in the near future, do I still have to be certified?
    If you retire by September 1, 2015 you can submit a written request to NJ Transit to not recertify before retirement.
  • If I am not a promoted Conductor yet, when will I be certified?
    Once you have completed the Conductor training program and obtained your physical characteristics qualifications, you will attend an initial certification course. Upon successful completion of the course you will be issued your certificate. Thereafter, you must be recertified every 3 years.
  • When recertification is due, what will be required?
    Initially, a copy of your state driver’s record, dating back to 1/1/2012. After 2017, future recertification will require a 5 year driver’s record history.
    Medical examination meeting the physical requirements including hearing and vision acuity standards, performed within 450 days
    Operating rules exam with at least a 85% passing grade
    Federal regulations exam with at least a 85% passing grade
    Physical characteristics exam with at least a 85% passing grade
    Safety rules exam with at least a 85% passing grade
  • What if I fail an examination?
    An employee working as a Conductor who fails any recertification exam – Rules/Special Instructions, Signals, Knowledge or Physical Characteristics will be permitted to continue working in “other than conductor service”. An employee currently working in “other that conductor service”, who fails any recertification exam, will be permitted to continue working in that position. In either case, they must schedule a retake within 30 days of the first attempt. If an employee fails the second attempt (first retake), they must reschedule a retake within 30 days of the second attempt.  If an employee fails the third attempt (second retake), they will be immediately removed from service, and must reschedule a fourth attempt (third retake) within 15 days. Further, if the employee fails the third exam, the employee is guaranteed additional instruction prior to taking the fourth exam. In the event that the employee fails the fourth attempt, the employee will no longer perform service as a trainman. However, the employee shall be provided with guaranteed consideration for future employment at NJ Transit. The employee will not be compensated for taking the third attempt (second retake) or fourth attempt (third retake).
  • What if I am not physical characteristics qualified?
    Promoted Conductors who were never previously paid to qualify on physical characteristics, must contact a Transportation Supervisor and request to become physical characteristics qualified on the territory over which they are currently working. Within 30 days of such notification, NJ Transit will establish a list of employees who have never been physical characteristics qualified, but now wish to do so. NJ Transit will provide this list to the UTU. Thereafter, these employees will be allotted time to qualify in accordance with the established “Qualifying Days” schedule agreed to between NJ Transit and the UTU.
    These provisions do not apply to employees that were previously qualified and have allowed their qualifications to lapse, or employees previously paid to qualify.
  • When and why is the driver’s record check required?
    Initially, for those certified as Conductors as of January 1, 2012, there are no background checks, However, after December 1, 2012 for those Conductors initially certified, the proper state authority, will provide to NJ Transit a copy of their driving record. The railroad will review the record for a conviction or completed state action to cancel, revoke, suspend, or deny a motor vehicle driver’s license for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance or for refusing to undergo such testing. NJ Transit shall not consider driving incidents that occurred prior to January 1, 2012 or for incidents that occurred more that 36 months prior to the month of making the certification decision. If such an incident is identified, that information and any other information regarding the person’s service record with the railroad will be sent to NJ Transit’s SAP (Substance Abuse Professional) for evaluation. The Conductor will be sent to an SAP for evaluation.
  • What are the physical fitness requirements for certification?
    There are only two physical fitness requirements; vision and hearing. One must have 20/40 vision (corrected or uncorrected), field vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian, and the ability to recognize and distinguish between the colors of railroad signals. One must not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels with or without the use of a hearing aid.
    Employees, whose vision and hearing do not meet the new requirements of CFR 242.117, will not be permitted to perform service as a certified Conductor. However, they will be permitted to work in “other than conductor service”, as long as they meet the requirements of the previous (old) vision and hearing tests. The medical services department will be responsible for determining if an employee is medically qualified to perform service as a Conductor or in “other that conductor service”.
  • What if I fail the vision or hearing acuity test?
    A person is entitled to one retest without any indication of a change in his/her condition. A person is entitled to a second retest if sufficient evidence is provided substantiating that circumstances have changed since the last test to the extent that the person could safely perform the duties.
  • Can I wear chromatic lenses during an initial test for the ability to recognize and distinguish among the colors used as railroad signals?
    No. The regulations strictly prohibit the use of chromatic lenses during the initial testing for color perception.
  • What does the Conductor Certification/Recertification course involve?
    The course will consist of two days of training. The first day will cover operating rules. The second day of continuing education will cover the Federal Regulations, physical characteristics, general knowledge of air brake, electrical and safety rules, and additional training in air brake or emergency preparedness (alternating years), customer service, fatigue mitigation, hours of service requirements, and other topics. A study guide is published in Division Notices.
  • Do the regulations require that my work be monitored by the railroad?
    Yes. The regulations require that NJ Transit shall have a program to monitor the conduct of its certified Conductors by performing unannounced operating rules compliance tests. At a minimum, a compliance test must be conducted within 30 days of a return to Conductor service and at least once annually for all Conductors.
  • Can my certification be revoked?
    Yes, once NJ Transit’s Conductor Certification Program is approved by the FRA, a Conductor’s certificate can be revoked for failure to comply with any of the following twelve items:
    1. Failure to control a locomotive or train in accordance with signal indication, excluding a hand or radio signal indication or switch, that requires a complete stop before passing it.
    2. Violating Restricted Speed or exceeding Maximum Authorized Speed by 10 MPH or greater.
    3. Failure to perform required brake tests
    4. Occupying a main track without proper authority.
    5. Tampering with a locomotive mounted safety device.
    6. Failure to control a shoving movement, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    7. Leaving equipment fouling an adjacent track, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    8. Failure to comply with additional operational requirements for hand-operated including crossover switches, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    9. Failure to comply with additional operational requirements for hand-operated main track switches, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    10. Failure to comply with additional operational requirements for hand-operated crossover switches, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    11. Improper use of hand-operated derails, which results in a reportable accident or incident.
    12. Drug and alcohol violations.
  • What are the periods of revocation for a violation?
    On other than main track where Restricted Speed is in effect, the period of revocation for a violation of items 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 above shall be reduced by one half provided that another revocable event has not occurred within the previous 12 months.
    In the case of a single incident involving violation of one or more of the operating rules or practices described in items 1 through 11 above, the person shall have his certificate revoked for a period of 30 calendar days.
    In the case of two separate incidents involving a violation of one or more of the operating rules or practices described in items 1 through 11 that occur within a 24 month period, the person shall have his license revoked for 6 months.
    In the case of three separate violations of one or more of the operating rules or practices described in items 1 through 12 that occur within a 36 month period of each other, the person shall have his license revoked for a period of one year.
     In the case of four separate incidents involving violations of one or more of the operating rules or practices described in items 1 through 12 that occur within a 36 month period the person shall have his/her license revoked for a period of 3 years.
     Any or all periods of revocation may consist of training or retraining.
     A person whose certification is denied or revoked shall be eligible for grant or reinstatement of the certificate prior to the expiration of the initial period of ineligibility only if; (1) The revocation or denial is one year or less; (2) Certification is not revoked or denied due to drugs or alcohol;  (3) The person is evaluated by a railroad officer and determined to have received adequate remedial training; (4) The person completes any mandatory program of training or retraining as determined necessary by the railroad; and (5) The person has served at least one half of the period of ineligibility.
  • Is there an appeal process if my certificate is wrongfully revoked?
    Yes. The regulation establishes an Operating Crew Review Board which is administered by the FRA. The petition for review must be filled out with the board within 120 days of the decision to revoke or deny certification. A decision will be made based on the written record. A decision of the Operating Crew Review Board may be appealed for an administrative hearing, so long as a written request is made within 20 days of the Board’s decision. This is a full administrative hearing, where the parties can appear and be heard. An adverse decision can be appealed to the FRA if a written appeal is made within 35 days of the decision.

IMPORTANT – The preceding information is as translated from NJT’s Supplemental Division Notice 7-102 effective 12:02AM 01/01/2014 and is posted as information only. While we make every attempt to provide you with up-to-date information, as always, be governed by the most current Division Notice, rules, etc.

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