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SEPTA under federal investigation, union claims

An official with the Regional Rail engineers union is alleging that SEPTA will soon be under federal investigation.

A SEPTA regional rail Silverline. Credit: Metro file photo A SEPTA regional rail Silverline.
Credit: Metro file photo

An official with the Regional Rail engineers union is alleging that SEPTA will soon be under federal investigation. The allegation surfaces as the union and SEPTA continue negotiations on a new contract.

Stephen J. Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said on Thursday that the Federal Railroad Administration advised him that the investigation concerns "certification and safety issues" that occurred over the last few weeks.

"And last week, there was another violation," Bruno said. "A signal violation and a train entering a track without authority."

SEPTA Spokeswoman Jerri Williams did not directly comment on the allegations, but said the two sides met last week, and again on Friday. "Conversations continued to be productive," she said.

Bruno said on Thursday, "We're still in what I would consider to be productive discussions, although we haven't settled the dispute yet."

A call to the Railroad Administration was not returned.

Last week, SEPTA asked the Obama Administration to green light a second board of federal negotiators to find common ground between the transit authority and the BLET. The board's intervention will prevent the 220 workers from striking for another 120 days.

Obama put together the first board on June 14 to pull the engineers back from a strike, which lasted a day.

Bruno said Thursday that SEPTA won't set a start date for a new contract, and won't address recently raised safety issues. "We have not been able to persuade SEPTA to even discuss the safety issues with us at this point."

The contract, which expired five years ago, did not originally include safety concerns.

Williams said "New issues cannot be brought into the (federal negotiation) process."

Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan

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