In anticipation of today’s House hearing on the U.S. supply chain, an “exclusive” pro-carrier piece in the Washington Examiner on freight crew size says that keeping two people on freight crews is making the problem worse, neglecting to mention the massive cuts in rail labor and workforce retention issues the carriers have created through Precision Scheduled Railroading that have contributed to the supply chain problem.
Posts Tagged ‘two person crew’
A boy’s life was saved Aug. 14 and a potential tragedy averted thanks to the fast-thinking actions of Mike Bobrosky III, a member of Local 1006 (Brownsville, Pa).That morning, Reese Pearson, 9, who has autism, ran off from his home in Morgan Township, Pa. His mom immediately called police, according to reports from KDKA TV-2 in Pittsburgh, and authorities began to search the remote wooded area for Reese.
Down the hill from the home traveling the Norfolk Southern line toward Waynesburg, Pa., conductor Bobrosky and his engineer were traveling southbound. As their train approached Wayne Tunnel nears Waynesburg, Bobrosky said he saw something fouling the track ahead.
“We were coming around a bend. He was in the middle of the gauge inside the tunnel, and we dumped it into emergency,” he said.
The train stopped inside the tunnel, just short of hitting the boy.
“It was inches.”
After the train stopped, they alerted authorities, who had been searching for Reese for quite some time, and coaxed him aboard the locomotive. The hungry boy received a ride to the next crossing from the crew, where authorities were waiting and reunited Reese with his worried mother.
The alertness of Bobrosky and the action he and his engineer took saved a life that day and serves as yet another example of how having two people in the cabs of freight trains makes a difference in safety, contrary to carriers’ arguments.
“It was a right-hand curve – I saw him way before the engineer,” Bobrosky said. “If it was a one-man crew, I don’t know if the train would have stopped.
“It made a difference having two on the crew.”
The incident earlier this month in which a two-person crew helped to save a 5-year-old girl in his state reminded SMART Transportation Division Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy of a letter his state’s legislative board submitted in 2018 in response to a federal Department of Transportation request for comment about autonomous rail operations.After a discussion he said he had last summer with FRA Administrator Ron Batory, Qualy said he had reason to believe that his communication over the safety a two-person freight rail crew provides might have been overlooked by the DOT and Batory and his agency. After all, there were about 1,545 comments in favor of the FRA establishing a two-person crew rule that were outweighed in the agency’s eyes by the 39 comments in favor of the May 2019 withdrawal of the proposed rule.
“This was a good letter that our members should read and be aware of,” Qualy said. “This spells out the essential argument of why having two people on the crew is important.”
In the letter, Qualy reminds Batory that technology does not always reduce the tasks involved in operating a train, citing crew duties such as:
- Throwing manual switches and dual control switches, coupling cars, coupling air-hoses, setting hand brakes, pulling pin lifters to switch cars, replacing failed hoses, gaskets, replacing couplers, mechanical and air-brake inspections remain constant work tasks of any operation. Any ATT, PTC, and/or aerial drone cannot do these train tasks.
- When ATT and PTC programs fail en route, standing or delayed trains must not be permitted to block public roadways as a practice. The uncoupling of a standing train to open a grade crossing to allow vehicles to pass requires two persons.
- After grade crossing collisions with the public, immediate Samaritan response to help the injured is an essential and moral responsibility within the fabric of our society. Two persons on all trains are necessary to assist the public after grade-crossing and other accidents.
“The railroad carriers and their associations claim two persons will not be necessary on trains with ATT and/ or PTC,” Qualy wrote. “These technological control features have nothing to do with the necessary and essential tasks of the train-machine behind or ahead of the locomotives.”
The Feb. 1 incident in East St. Paul, Minn., in which a missing girl was found by a two-person train crew after they alertly stopped and provided aid is a perfect example of why two sets of eyes are needed in the cab.
“Railroad carriers have a moral responsibility to provide for the right of Samaritan response,” Qualy wrote in his letter.
The questions need to be asked. Would the girl have been seen if it were a one-person operation that night? Would the sensors of an autonomous train have detected her, stopped the train and invited her into the cab of the locomotive for warmth and protection and then contacted authorities so she could be reunited with her worried family?
Here’s a little reminder that some on the railroad believe in moral responsibility over innovation.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The first step in the process to mandate a minimum of two-person freight train crews in Ohio (H.B. 107) occurred Wednesday, March 29, when the Ohio Transportation & Safety Committee held its first hearing on the bill.
To make H.B. 107 a law in Ohio, we need TD union members, friends, family and anyone who cares about the safety of workers and the safety of our communities to click the link below to send a message to the members of the Ohio Transportation & Safety Committee, urging them to support this vital safety measure.
TAKE ACTION IN YOUR STATE! Email us news of two-person crew or right-to-work (IS WRONG) legislation in your state to News_TD@smart-union.org.
TAKE ACTION to support H.R. 233, The Safe Freight Act, which would require a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains operating in the United States. Click here to send a message to your U.S. House and Senate reps. in support of H.R. 233.
TAKE ACTION by calling members of the Ohio Transportation & Safety Committee (phone numbers listed below). Ask your Representatives to support H.B. 107 and thank the sponsors and co-sponsors for their support.
Ohio House Transportation & Safety Committee members (in order by district):
- *Tom Patton (R – Dist. 7): 614-466-4895
- *Stephanie Howse (D – Dist. 11): 614-466-1414
- VC Dave Greenspan (R – Dist. 16): 614-466-0961
- *Jim Hughes (R – Dist. 24): 614-466-8012
- Alicia Reece (D – Dist. 33): 614-466-1308
- Tony DeVitis (R – Dist. 36): 614-466-1790
- *Mike Sheehy (D – Dist. 46): 614-466-1418
- *Thomas West (D – Dist. 49): 614-466-8030
- Candice Keller (R – Dist. 53): 614-644-5094
- Nathan Manning (R – Dist. 55): 614-644-5076
- *Michele LaPore-Hagan (D – Dist. 58): 614-466-9435
- Chairman Doug Green (R – Dist. 66): 614-644-6034
- Darrell Kick (R – Dist. 70): 614-466-2994
- Larry Householder (R – Dist. 72): 614-466-2500
- Terry Johnson (R – Dist. 90): 614-466-2124
*Denotes Sponsor or Co-sponsor of H.B. 107
According to a CNN report, a Long Island, N.Y. commuter train heading eastbound collided with part of a work train that was blocking the track. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials are investigating the crash. Read the full story here.
Along with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), leaders and members of transportation unions, including TTD and SMART TD, provided compelling testimony to the FRA today, in support of a federal rule that would mandate a minimum of two crew members for all freight train operations. Read the complete TTD press release here
Amarillo.com reported that BNSF freight trains collided head-on this morning in the town of Panhandle, Texas, near Amarillo, creating a massive fireball and explosion that prompted a swift evacuation of Panhandle residents. Injuries and missing persons have been reported; at this time, no details have surfaced regarding those missing, or the number or severity of injuries. Read the complete story here. Photo courtesy of ABC News.