FRA to Issue Proposed Minimum Crew Size Rule

Responding to the Lac-Megantic disater, the Federal Railroad Administration announces it will issue a proposed rule regarding crew size on crude oil trains.

DOT's Federal Railroad Administration will issue a proposed rule on minimum train crew size. The proposed rule would require a two-person train crew on crude oil trains and establish minimum crew size standards for most main-line freight and passenger rail operations. In addition, FRA will begin a rulemaking on train securement and recommend a rulemaking on the movement of hazardous materials.

The announcement of these related rules follows the deliberations of three Railroad Safety Advisory Committee Working Groups that FRA established last summer on appropriate train crew size, securement, and hazmat issues as a result of the Lac-Megantic, Quebec derailment and fire involving tank railcars filled with crude oil.

Existing FRA regulations do not require a minimum number of staff, though current practice is typically to have two-person crews for over-the-road operations. In addition to requiring a minimum staffing rule, FRA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking based on the recommendations from the Securement Working Group that would prohibit certain unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track and would require railroads to implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders, according to the agency's news release.

"Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to taking the necessary steps to assure the safety of those who work for railroads and shippers, and the residents and communities along shipping routes," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The proposed rulemaking on crew size is the latest effort in our comprehensive strategy to ensure crude oil is transported as safely as possible."

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