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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Senators introduce two-person train crew bill


U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced a bill that would mandate a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains operating in the United States.

Known as the Safe Freight Act, the legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 1748 in the House.

The legislation is in response to the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) decision earlier this year to withdraw a proposed two-person crew rule, Markey said in a press release.

"The decision by the FRA to abandon its planned two-person crew rule makes no sense, especially in light of recent rail accidents,” said Wyden. “This is a matter of safety and security for rail crew and the public, and experts agree. It’s now up to Congress to step in and require freight trains have the staffing required to keep folks safe.”

Other U.S. senators who are co-sponsoring the legislation include Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) leaders support the legislation.

“Two-person crews make for safer, more efficient train operations, and two-person crews play a key role in safeguarding our nation’s communities when a serious accident occurs," said BLET National President Dennis Pierce in a press release.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is opposed to mandatory two-person crew sizes and backed the FRA's decision to withdraw its proposed rule. Legislation that mandates train crew sizes "would freeze evolution of railroad operations that might affect crew size, removing the incentive for future innovation," AAR officials said in a statement posted on the association's website.

"There is no data showing two-person crews are safer than one-person crews," they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/27/2019