FRA Gets Earful on 2-Person Crew Proposal

More than 1,400 people and organizations have commented on a proposed Federal Railroad Administration rule that would mandate two-person crews on most trains.

Not surprisingly, two railroad trade groups opposed the rule while railroad workers – whose comments made up the bulk of the comments received – are in favor of it.

FRAThe workers, most of them locomotive engineers and conductors, told stories of incidents they had encountered on the job that would have been difficult if not impossible for one person to address.

The trade groups, included the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, have questioned the safety benefits the rule would deliver.

AAR said there is a lack of hard information showing that the rule would materially improve railroad safety.

The FRA has acknowledged it lacks data showing that two-person crews are inherently safer than one-person crews.

The AAR has cited several studies finding strong safety records of single-crew operation around the world.

The railroad trade groups contend that the two-person rule would be an economic burden on railroads that already operate trains with one crew member as well prevent hinder efforts to reduce crew sizes in the future through technological innovations or negotiation.

Supporting the rule are railroad labor unions, who contend that the two-person crew rule will make operations safer for employees and the public.

In a joint statement, the unions said the only safe way to operate a train is with a crew of at least two people, both of whom are federally certified.

The unions, which include the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Transportation workers Transportation Division cited crew member fatigue as the industry’s top safety issue.

They pointed to unpredictable work hours and too many required tasks putting added pressures on crew members and making their work more complex.

The FRA will conduct public hearings on July 15.

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