Washington House passes railroad crew van bill

Published: March 12, 2015

washington_stateOLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington House of Representatives voted 84-14 March 10 to pass Rep. Derek Stanford’s (D – Bothell) bill to strengthen safety regulations for the transportation of railroad workers to and from work.

Prior to 1977, railroad companies operated van services to transport railroad employees between various work locations throughout the state. The Utilities and Transportation Commission was given oversight over the safety of the van service, and established safety regulations regarding drivers and vehicle conditions.

However, railroad companies no longer manage the van services, and private shuttle companies have stepped in to fill the market need. These shuttles are driven all over the state, in all terrains and poor conditions, and the drivers often lack qualifications or have a history of violations. The UTC has no regulatory authority over the now-private van services, which have resulted in numerous fatal accidents in the past several years.

“There’s an old saying among railroad workers,” Stanford said. “That railroad work is dangerous work, but the most dangerous part of the job is the ride there. We can do better with our safety requirements. We can update our laws to reflect the new way these companies operate.”

Stanford’s House Bill 1808 would give the UTC regulatory authority over private railroad crew transportation services.

HB 1808 now goes to the Senate for consideration.