Bill Would Mandate 2-Person Crews in Ohio

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced legislation to require two people in locomotive crews.

The bill is currently before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

HB 186 establishes penalties ranging from up to $1,000 for a first violation to as much as $10,000 for a third violation within three years of the first.

The bill would also require railroads to illuminate rail yards as outlined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and to construct walkways next to tracks wherever employees perform switching activities.

Trains would not be able to block grade crossings for emergency vehicles and violations would incur a fine of up to $5,000.

“Railroads are a very important part of commerce, but if you start thinking about what’s carried in a railcar, what kind of havoc that could wreak on your districts and your communities, I think it is a common sense solution to require a two-man train crew,” Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-District 98) told the committee.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was Michael Sheehy (D-District 46), who retired from CSX in 2012 after working for 40 years in the railroad industry, much of it as a conductor.

“Historically members of a freight railroad crew consisted of an engineer, a fireman, a conductor and two switchmen—a five-man crew,” Sheehy said. “With advances in technology, that crew size has been reduced to just a conductor and an engineer—a two-person crew.”

He noted that at least 10 states either have or are considering legislation requiring minimum two-person train crews.

Railway Age noted in a report about the legislation that the issue of crew size is largely a moot point because every Class 1 railroad has labor contracts requiring a two-person crew.

The Federal Railroad Administration recently ended a rule-making proceeding that would have mandated a two-person crew on every freight train.

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