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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AAR again urges FRA to drop two-person crew proposal


The Association of American Railroads (AAR) yesterday filed supplemental comments with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the agency's proposed rule that would require two-person train crews.

In its comments, the AAR again called on the FRA to drop its proposed rule, as well as to disclose data sources it has used to inform its proposal.

"The simple fact is that no data exist showing two-person crews will enhance safety," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger in a press release. "The FRA needs to be fully transparent in disclosing the sources it has relied on during this rulemaking process. Until the agency can provide any hard evidence to make its case, it should abandon this misguided proposal."

The comments filed yesterday were in response to a July 15 public hearing. The AAR wrote to the FRA in May identifying five categories of data and asking that the information be posted prior to the closing of the public comment period. The FRA has yet to respond or make the information available, AAR officials said.

Additionally, the AAR has learned that the FRA is funding a study at Duke University, which is examining whether there is a correlation between crew size and safety.

"The fact that the government continues to investigate this question — at the same time it has proposed a rule based on the assumption that there is a correlation between crew size and safety — raises serious concerns, and further underscores the absence of evidence supporting the proposed rule," the AAR stated in its comments.
"At a minimum, the FRA should refrain from issuing a final rule until it has the results of the work it commissioned, and has made those results publicly available."

In its filing, the AAR also responded to concerns raised at the public hearing that suggested it's more difficult for a one-person crew to clear a stopped train blocking a grade crossing. A second crew member alone does not address that concern, AAR officials said.

New technologies and approaches continue to be developed to address and maintain safe operations, including remote control technology and roving conductor positions, they added.