Posts Tagged ‘one person crews’

NS Official Calls ‘One-Person Crews’ a Misnomer

May 20, 2021

A Norfolk Southern executive this week sought to reframe what the railroad industry is seeking in talks with its unions about crew size.

Mark George, the railroad’s chief financial officer argued that railroads are not seeking one-person crews but rather want to conduct crew redeployment.

It is not that railroads want to eliminate conductors, he said in a speech to an investor’s conference, but rather railroads want to change the nature of their jobs, including taking some of them out of locomotive cabs.

 Saying the phrase “one-person crew” is a misnomer and has served as a lightning rod of controversy, George said, “The reality is this is about crew redeployment.

“Technology has rendered the role of a conductor in the cab itself unnecessary,” he said. “So what we would like to see is ground-based conductor positions.

 “We think that that’s better for all stakeholders, including the crew people themselves to be on the ground as opposed to stuck in the cab. So that is definitely an area that we’d like to continue to push.”

Class 1 railroads such as NS are seeking to have conductors be responsible for several trains in their territories.

The proposal is the subject of national negotiations with labor unions, which have largely opposed the concept.

Railroads contend that the use of positive train control has made operations safer by reducing human error.

In his remarks, George said railroad want to redeploy conductors in territories where PTC or its technological equivalent has been installed.

He said this would enable railroads to “take full advantage of new investments in modern technology . . . and better align operational costs with other industries.”

The advantage to railroad crew members, railroad officials have said, is that more of them would be able to spend their nights at home after their shift is over rather than at a hotel.

George said negotiations over crew issues are expected to conclude for another couple of year.