Rail unions endorse two-person crew legislation

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division (SMART TD) have announced their support of a bill that calls for two-person rail crews.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1748) requires that two certified crew members operate freight trains. The legislation is necessary to “protect railroad workers and the American public,” said BLET National President Dennis Pierce in a press release.

H.R. 1748 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

“While the railroad industry talks of one-person train crews and even autonomous trains, the 2013 tragedy of Lac-Megantic is justification enough that we need two sets of eyes and ears in the locomotive cab,” Pierce said.

Added SMART TD President John Previsich: “There is no doubt that the only safe rail operation is one that includes at a minimum a certified conductor and a certified locomotive engineer.”

The accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, occurred July 6, 2013, when an unattended freight train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded, causing a massive fire that killed 47 people.

Meanwhile in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis last week signed a bill that requires at least two-person crews on freight trains or light engines while they’re moving.

Story by progressiverailroading.com

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