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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Indiana Rail Road, associations sue Illinois over train crew rule

Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker signed the state's new train-crew size law in August.
Photo – Pritzker's Facebook page


Indiana Rail Road Co., the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association have asked a federal judge to stop Illinois from enforcing a new law that requires a minimum of two crew members on trains.

In a lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court yesterday against the Illinois Commerce Commission, the railroad and associations argue that federal regulations preempt the crew-size law that Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker signed in August. The law is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Pritzker signed the law three months after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) determined that "no regulation of train-crew staffing is necessary or appropriate" for railroads to operate safely, according to the lawsuit.

"In recent decades, technological breakthroughs have allowed railroads to gradually decrease average crew sizes —from about five in the 1960s to just two today — while compiling an ever-improving record of safety," the court filing states. "Now, the nation's railroads are poised to deliver even safer and more efficient service."

The suit also notes that the FRA spent years considering crew-size evidence and found nothing to show that requiring minimum crew sizes would improve safety.

The Illinois bill that Pritzker signed in August was proposed to address the FRA's decision to withdraw a 2016 proposed rulemaking that would have required freight trains to be operated with no less than two crew members.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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