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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Union-backed legislation would require two-person train crews


U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has introduced a bill that would require at least two crew members — a certified locomotive engineer and a certified conductor — on all freight trains in the United States, two railroad unions announced late last week.

The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1763) mirrors a bill that was introduced in the last Congress. The new legislation has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to a press release issued jointly by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers International Association (SMART).

The legislation reflects the concerns over crew size that arose from the July 6, 2013, derailment of a train carrying crude oil through Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which resulted in 47 fatalities and destroyed the town's center, union officials said. The train had been operated by one crew member.

"The BLET continues to oppose and condemn single-person freight operations as adverse to worker and public safety," said BLET National President Dennis Pierce. "All parties involved must understand that as things stand today, there are only two ways to end one-person train operations: federal laws or regulations that outlaw this dangerous practice, or collectively bargained contract language that requires two crew members on every train."

Said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich: "With several major train derailments having occurred in the last few months, most notably the oil train derailment and explosion near Charleston, W.Va., in February, our lawmakers and the general public must understand that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities."

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More News from 4/20/2015