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Rail News: Safety

Nevada's Sandoval vetoes two-person crew bill

Gov. Brian Sandoval
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Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval recently vetoed a bill that would have required a minimum crew size of two people on freight trains operating in the state.

Senate Bill 427 called for a mandatory minimum crew of two people on Class I and Class II railroads that transport freight through Nevada. Sandoval vetoed the legislation on June 8.

Although the intent of the legislation — ensuring rail traffic safety — is laudable, the bill goes too far, Sandoval said in a veto letter to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

"There is no evidence that the requirements proposed by the bill will actually result in increased safety for rail crews and the general public," Sandoval wrote, noting that two-person crews on freight railroads already is the standard in Nevada as a result of collective bargaining agreements.

The bill would have restored a state law that required a minimum freight-train crew size. That law was repealed in 1985, according to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

The bill was introduced in response to interest expressed by freight railroad operators nationwide to reduce crew size for most cross-country freight trains from two to one, BLET officials said in a press release.

"The desire to pursue single-person operation of freight trains clearly represents placing cost reduction and profits ahead of responsibility for ensuring that movement of freight by rail through the communities of Nevada takes place in the safest possible manner," said Matt Parker, chairman of BLET's Nevada State Legislative Board.