FRA issues ruling on size of train crews

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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently issued a final rule that establishes minimum safety requirements, stipulating a second crewmember on all trains.

The final rule codifies train crew staffing rules at a federal level, and closes a loophole that allowed railroads to conduct single-crew operations.

The rule permits, in limited cases, exceptions for smaller railroads to continue or begin certain one-person train crew operations by notifying FRA and complying with federal safety standards.

The final rule is somewhat different than the agency’s proposed rulemaking in how it treats freight railroads, especially Class II and III freight railroads.

“The volume of comments from rail workers and their families, as well as comments from the general public impacted by long trains and other issues, raised legitimate safety concerns that railroads, on their own, have not been able to adequately address,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said. “Today’s final rule acknowledges the important role both crewmembers play in the safe operations of trains, and it comes at a time when the latest annual data reflects some troubling trends that demonstrate the need to improve safety.”

During a 146-day comment period, the agency reviewed and considered more than 13,500 written comments.