What You Need to Know
Are there currently two person crews on freight trains?
Most trains have two person crews on them currently. There are a few exceptions for smaller short line railroads. Many of the bigger corporate railroads would like to either cut these crews to one or eliminate humans in the cab altogether. We started this page to fight the unsafe practice of running trains with less than two crew members.
Have there been any accidents with one person crews?
Yes, in 2013 there was a large and devastating accident in Lac Megantic, Canada when an unattended 73-car freight train carrying crude oil rolled down a 1.2% grade and derailed downtown, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-seven people were killed. More than 30 buildings in the town's center, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the townsite. Initial newspaper reports described a 1-kilometre (0.6 mi) blast radius. The train was initially secured by a one person crew.
How many states have two person crew laws?
8 states currently have two person crew laws. Those states are California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and many other states have introduced legislation hoping to have future two person crew laws in the books.
Is there any two person crew legislation I can support?
Yes, Currently Michigan has a state two person crew bill going through the legislature. SB 767 and HB 5996, the bill numbers for Michigan, can be supported by calling and emailing your representatives in Michigan. The FRA is currently in the process for a federal rule to keep two person crews on trains as well. this is a result of FRA leadership and the unions who have fought to get this done.
What is a railroader's schedule like?
Most over the road railroaders work on call. The FRA regulates that railroaders can only run a train for 12 hrs. Their shift may last longer as that does not include transportation from the train back to a terminal or hotel to punch out for the day. After a shift, railroaders are guaranteed 10 hrs of undisturbed rest until they can be called again. This schedule can lead to very random start times. One of the more difficult adjustments for railroaders is getting used to sleeping at different times during the day or night.
Are there other legislative fights important to railroaders?
Railroaders are also currently fighting to shorten train lengths. An additional problem of corporate greed is the combining of trains. In order to lower operating costs, many rail carriers are making trains even longer. Some can be up to 3 miles long. The problem with this practice is that it makes for a more dangerous train that can have more issues along its route. Trains this long also have trouble fitting between crossings which leads to many more blocked crossings for longer periods of time. This is a safety problem for most emergency response situations.