John Risch: FRA, Trump administration halt all crew safety efforts
Dear SMART TD,
Today the Trump administration did everything it could to stop all railroad crew safety issues.
In a Federal Register posting published at 4 p.m. today, the FRA formally withdrew the pending proposed rulemaking dating from 2016 that would have set a mandatory crew size on freight and passenger trains.
But the notice went much further than that. It announced that not only will FRA turn a blind eye to the unsafe practices of single-person or no-person trains, the agency claims that its notice also nullifies all state laws and regulations that establish minimum crew standards.
President Donald Trump, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and FRA Administrator Ron Batory have taken sides, and it’s with the railroads that want to eliminate operating crew members to the detriment of rail safety and to the detriment of the communities through which our members operate trains. We are considering legal action and other avenues to protect our members and the American public from the prospects of driverless trains.
The action today flies in the face of so-called conservative values and state’s rights. The federal government is refusing to protect the public and at the same time is prohibiting states from doing so by posting this federal notice.
This action undermines my faith in the FRA in being a fair and impartial overseer of safety in the railroad industry. Clearly, the railroad CEOs have their folks in power with President Trump and his administration. This action should put an end to any thoughts that this president and this administration is supportive of railroad workers.
It is now more important than ever that we pass a federal law requiring that every train in America have a minimum of two crew members. Those two crew members must be a federally certified conductor and a federally certified locomotive engineer.
It’s time to not only send an email message to your member of Congress, but it is time for every operating railroad worker to contact their member of Congress personally. Call their offices and ask to meet with them today.
We will not be stopped by today’s terrible decision. It makes us more committed than ever to pass a federal two-person crew law.
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division