April 2, 2024 - TRA Newswire - 

After two years of listening to all sides of the issue, the Federal Railroad Administration ruled today that two-person crews will be maintained on most all rail routes in the U.S., though there may be some exceptions. 

The FRA waded through more than 13,000 comments on the rule, with only 60 in opposition.

Labor agreements with Class 1 railroads have been in place for about 30 years mandating a two-person crew and Eddie Hall, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said "as trains, many carrying hazardous material, have grown longer, crews should not be getting smaller."

Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, a trade organization representing various railroads, said “The FRA is doubling down on an unfounded and unnecessary regulation that has no proven connection to rail safety.”

Many short line railroads already operate with one-person crews and there may be some exceptions for local service. 

When contacted by Texas Rail Advocates, the Texas Short Line and Regional Railroad Association and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association said in a statement that "we are still closely reviewing the rule to see how it impacts Class II and III railroads. USDOT says they made changes from the initial proposed rule, but we need to get into the details."

Unions have said that the second person, usually a conductor, is critical to help operate trains, many that now stretch for miles, and to keep the engineer alert. Conductors also serve as first responders.

Railroads have previously said that the size of the train crew should be determined by contract talks, not by lawmakers or regulators. 

Photo credit: Texas Rail Advocates