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BLET and UTU to FRA: Ban one-man crews


Last week, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and United Transportation Union (UTU) jointly filed a petition with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) seeking an emergency order to prohibit one-person crews, including workers involved in conventional and remote-control yard switching operations.

Although collective bargaining agreements require at least one conductor on each train start, there are no federal safety regulations prohibiting one-person crews in yard or road operations, the unions claim.

"The evidence shows that no conditions exist where a lone engineer or remote control operations are safe," BLET and UTU officials said in the petition.

The unions point to a May 10 accident at CSX Transportation’s Selkirk, N.Y., yard as an example. The incident resulted in the death of a UTU-represented conductor, who was working alone and using a remote-control device, according to the BLET and UTU.

"The workload associated with [remote-control operations], while performing other safety critical tasks, demands too much of a single individual, including loss of situational awareness," union officials said in the petition.

The BLET and UTU also question the FRA’s conclusions that the safety records of remote-control and conventional operations essentially are the same.

“It is time for the FRA to take a proactive safety stance, and not merely a band-aid reactive approach to this issue,” union officials said in the petition.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/15/2009