Federal Railroad Administration Proposes Regulations on Minimum Crew Size - Global Trade Magazine
  March 30th, 2016 | Written by

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes Regulations on Minimum Crew Size

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  • Rail operations with minimum two crewmembers a “no brainer:” union.
  • Second crewmember on moving train would have defined responsibilities under proposed regulation.
  • “Trains operated by one person are unsafe and should be barred,” said transportation union leader.

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed regulations establishing minimum requirements for the size of train crew staffs depending on the type of operation.

A minimum requirement of two crewmembers is proposed for all railroad operations, with exceptions proposed for those operations that FRA believes do not pose significant safety risks to railroad employees, the general public, and the environment. The proposed rule would also establish minimum requirements for the roles and responsibilities of the second train crewmember on a moving train, and promote safe and effective teamwork. The FRA also proposed two different options for situations where a railroad wants to continue an existing operation with a one-person train crew or start up an operation with less than two crewmembers.

Under both proposed options, a railroad that wants to continue an existing operation or start a new operation with less than a two-person train crew would be required to describe the operation and provide safety-related information to FRA. Proposed Option 1 includes an FRA review and approval period lasting up to 90 days while Option 2 proposes permitting such operations to initiate or continue without a mandatory FRA review and approval waiting period or while such review is taking place.

For start-up freight operations with less than two crewmembers, proposed Option 2 also requires a statement signed by the railroad officer in charge of the operation certifying a safety hazard analysis of the operation has been completed and that the operation provides an appropriate level of safety.

Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO said the proposed FRA rule is a “no brainer.”

“We have long argued that trains operated by one person are unsafe and should be barred,” he said. Wytkind added that the union would press for modifications to the rule as proposed. “Among our concerns,” he said, “are the provisions offered as an option in the rule which would permit one-person crew operations in certain circumstances. These measures are overly lenient and should be removed from the final rule.”