AAR Opposes Two-Person Rail Crew Mandate

"This proposed rule is a textbook example of unnecessary regulation, and, if implemented, would have a chilling effect on the development of new technologies that could make the world's safest transportation network even safer. While the Department of Transportation is throwing its full support behind the development of autonomous vehicles as a way to improve safety on our roadways, it is doing the opposite with our railroads," said Edward R. Hamberger, the Association of American Railroads' president and CEO.

The Association of American Railroads filed comments June 15 urging the Federal Railroad Administration to withdraw its proposed rule mandating two-person crews on railroads and saying the proposal is not justified by any data and could undermine efforts to improve freight rail safety. "There is no greater priority for the freight rail industry than safety, but this proposed rule offers no safety benefit to railroads, their employees, or the public," said Edward R. Hamberger, the association's president and CEO. "There is absolutely no data to support the view that a second crew member enhances safety. This regulation is trying to solve a problem that does not exist."

FRA published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on March 15 and in it acknowledged that it lacks data to support the assertion that two-person crews are safer than one-person crews, AAR pointed out, adding that the proposal largely ignores studies provided by AAR in January 2015 that quantify the strong safety record of single-person crew, which are used all over the world, according to AAR.

"With no evidence that one-person operations are less safe, there is simply no basis for enacting a general prohibition on crew size reductions," Hamberger said.

AAR emphasized that new safety technologies provide productivity and efficiency gains to the railroads that implement them and smart regulatory policy should be designed to encourage — not inhibit — railroads from investing in those technologies. "This proposed rule is a textbook example of unnecessary regulation, and, if implemented, would have a chilling effect on the development of new technologies that could make the world's safest transportation network even safer. While the Department of Transportation is throwing its full support behind the development of autonomous vehicles as a way to improve safety on our roadways, it is doing the opposite with our railroads," he said.

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