Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Feds propose two crew minimum for trains; many trains operated by a crew of one

Rural residents concerned over a rise in train derailments in recent years might be surprised to know that many trains are operated by a crew of one. The Federal Railroad Administration would like to change that, proposing regulations on Monday requiring trains have a minimum of two crew members, Joan Lowy reports for The Associated Press. The move is partly in response to the 2013 crude oil train derailment in Quebec that resulted in 47 deaths. The train was unattended. (Reuters graphic)

The Association of American Railroads opposes the proposal, Lowy writes. Railroad association president Edward Hamberger said there is “simply no safety case” for requiring two-person crews. He also said there will be no point in two person crews once a 2008 law becomes operational. The law requires positive train control technology—which relies on GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger of colliding or derailing—on all tracks used by passenger trains or trains that haul liquids that turn into toxic gas when exposed to air by Dec. 31, 2015. "After it became clear most railroads wouldn’t make that deadline, Congress passed a bill last fall giving railroads another three to five years to complete the task."

"The Federal Railroad Administration is also considering allowing railroads that operate with only one engineer to apply for an exception to the proposed two-person crew rule, according to a notice published in the Federal Regulator," Lowy writes.

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