Low-risk rail operations, those not carrying large volumes of hazardous material, traveling at high speeds, or putting passengers on passenger trains at risk, could retain one-person crews under the FRA proposed rule.

FRA Proposes Two-Person Train Crew Requirement

The rail operations that could still utilize one-person crews would be low risk -- that is, they are not carrying large volumes of hazardous materials, traveling at high speeds, or putting passengers on passenger trains at risk, according to the rule.

A rule proposed March 14 by the Federal Railroad Administration would require a minimum of two crew members for all railroad operations, except for those FRA believes do not pose a significant safety risk for rail employees, the public, or the environment by using a one-member crew. FRA also wrote into its proposed rule two options for how a rail operator could petition to retain one-person crews in its operations or begin using one-person crews.

The rail operations that could still utilize one-person crews would be low risk -- that is, they are not carrying large volumes of hazardous materials, traveling at high speeds, or putting passengers on passenger trains at risk, according to the rule.

FRA is accepting comments on its rule for the next 60 days. Stakeholders can submit a comment by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching for Docket No. FRA-2014-0033.

FRA indicated in the rule it is concerned that, as positive train control is implemented, railroads may expand their use of one-person crews without considering safety risks or implementing risk management strategies that FRA considers necessary.

The rule's explanatory text mentions the Lac-Megantic, Quebec, disaster, where multiple tank cars carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in the town and ignited, killing at least 47 people, as a recent incident that raised crew size safety issues.

The Association of American Railroads' president and CEO, Edward R. Hamberger, issued a statement opposing the FRA rule. "Safety is this industry's number one concern, but there is simply no safety case to be made for a regulation that requires two-person crews, especially where Positive Train Control is fully operational," he said. "Worldwide, trains safely operate with one person in the cab, including here in the United States with passenger and commuter trains and some short line freight railroads. Major European railway systems running many mixed freight and passenger trains per day have safely implemented single-person train crews. Coming from an administration that champions smart, data-driven regulations, it is inexplicable how this proposal was approved by the President's Office of Management and Budget. Even the FRA concedes they have no 'reliable or conclusive statistical data' to suggest that two-person crews are safer. I encourage the FRA to reexamine the facts and exercise sound regulatory judgment before finalizing a rule that lacks empirical support."

Hamberger said Class 1 freight railroads remain committed to two people in the cab for trains operating on mainline track that is not equipped with Positive Train Control, which will be in operation for 60,000 out of the nation's 140,000 miles of freight rail lines.

"PTC is designed to provide continuous monitoring of train operations to protect against human error in controlling train speeds and movements. This is exactly the kind of safety redundancy through technology for which the FRA has long advocated," he said.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

    June 2022

    Featuring:

    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
    • HEAT STRESS
      Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
    • EMPLOYEE HEALTH SCREENING
      Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
    • PPE FOR WOMEN
      Addressing Physical Differences
    View This Issue