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  March 5th, 2023 | Written by

Locomotive Engineers Are Onboard for the Bipartisan Rail Safety Act of 2023

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The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) backs the Rail Safety Act of 2023 that would require more stringent rail safety standards, but the nation’s oldest union says the two-person crew requirement doesn’t go far enough and should be amended.  “You can run a freight train through the loopholes,” says BLET National President Eddie Hall.

A bipartisan bill introduced on March 1 by three Republican and three Democratic senators is designed to toughen safety standards on America’s railroads. “Right now our nation’s railroads largely self-regulate,” said Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen National President Eddie Hall. “We welcome greater federal oversight and a crackdown on railroads that seem all too willing to trade safety for higher profits.”

The Rail Safety Act of 2023 would set limits on train length for the first time. Some freight trains now exceed three miles in length. The train that derailed last month in East Palestine, Ohio was nearly two miles long. The bill also seeks to place restrictions on the weight of trains. It would set standards for railcar maintenance, track maintenance, wayside defect detectors and raise standards for tank cars carrying hazardous materials, among other changes.

While the proposed legislation states that: No freight train may be operated without a 2-person crew consisting of at least 1 appropriately qualified and certified conductor and 1 appropriately qualified and certified locomotive engineer, the exceptions are significant.