FRA Won’t Impose Minimum Crew Size Rule

The Federal Railroad Administration said this week it will not implement a rule requiring a specific number of people in the cab of a freight train.

The crew size rule making proceeding began in March 2016 and FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said there is not enough data to support the need for more than one person in the cab of a train.

Batory’s statement drew sharp criticism from railroad labor unions, but was lauded by the Association of American Railroads.

The minimum crew size standard proceeding began after the derailment of an oil train in 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when the parked oil train began moving and derailed after the locomotive engineer, who was working alone, failed to apply an adequate number of hand brakes to keep the train stationary. The resulting explosion and fire left 47 dead.

Canadian investigators concluded the use of a one-person crew did not directly contribute to the derailment, which Batory cited in his statement.

The FRA held hearings on a minimum crew size rule in 2013 and 2014 before initiating a rule making proceeding in 2016.

In his statement, Batory said the FRA’s action will pre-empt efforts in some states, including Colorado and Nevada, that have approved or are considering implementing a minimum crew size law.

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