Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose last week addressed a shippers’ conference and said that part of his agency’s rationale in approaching a minimum crew size rulemaking will be taking into consideration the carriers’ use of longer trains, Trains Magazine reported April 8.
“We think having a consistent standard for crew size across the country benefits the rail industry, benefits safety, and gives certainty on the regulatory environment when it comes to train safety,” Bose told the North East Association of Rail Shippers. “Also, coupled with that, don’t forget: The trains are running longer. The length of trains is growing.”
In 2014, FRA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on a minimum size for freight rail crews. Public comment was sought, thousands of Americans responded, including fire chiefs, police chiefs and emergency responders, with the vast majority of those submitted in favor of establishing a standard of at least a certified conductor and certified engineer present in the cab.
However, the NPRM was shelved by the Trump administration and former rail CEO Ron Batory in May 2019, who argued that there was no safety data to support the rule and tried to wipe out legislation passed by nine states that had ensured safe rail operations by establishing minimum freight crew sizes of two on a crew. Batory’s overreach was later struck down by a federal appeals court, and the NPRM was returned to FRA for consideration.
The agency has not relaunched the NPRM process for the minimum freight crew size rule, but when it does, Bose says FRA will be actively seeking comments from labor, the public and the carriers.
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