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New York state lawmakers introduce bill to mandate two-person train crews

The New York State Capitol in Albany.
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Two New York state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require all freight trains to have a minimum of two-person crews.

State Senate Bill S7151 was introduced earlier this month by State Sen. Timothy Kennedy (D) and a companion bill was introduced by State Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D), according to a press release issued by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET).

The labor union supports the legislation, which calls for all freight trains operating in the state to have at least a certified locomotive engineer and a certified conductor on board.

The proposed law is intended to protect the safety of the public and railroad workers, according to BLET.

Last year, the Federal Railroad Administration dropped a proposed rule that would require two-person crews on freight trains. In response, Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation that call for a minimum of two-person crews on freight trains. BLET and other rail labor unions support the federal legislation.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) opposes mandated crew levels on trains, noting that major U.S. freight trains mainline tracks generally operate with two crew members in the locomotive cab.

"Rail operators, which maintain a distinguished safety record, must continue to have the ability to innovate in the future to remain safe and efficient — including allowing operations with fewer than two people," states the policy section of AAR website. "Single-person crews have long been used on passenger, short line and foreign freight rail systems."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/31/2020