Transportation Dept. sets new rule on freight train crew size


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participates in a news conference at the White House on March 27. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
April 2 (UPI) — The Transportation Department announced a new rule on Tuesday dictating the crew size on freight trains in light of the February 2023 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The Federal Railroad Administration issued the final rule that established the minimum safety requirements for the crew size. The crew size was one of the issues during the investigation of the toxic derailment. Advertisement
“Common sense tells us that large freight trains, some of which can be over three miles long, should have at least two crew members on board — and now there’s a federal regulation in place to ensure trains are safely staffed,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
“This rule requiring safe train crew sizes is long overdue, and we are proud to deliver this change that will make workers, passengers, and communities safer.”
The Transportation Department said the second crew member should be performing important safety tasks that could be lost in a train with a single crew member, including calling the FRA if there is a problem.
“The final rule closes this loophole by establishing minimum standards and a federal oversight process to empower communities and railroad workers to make their voices heard by allowing for public input during FRA’s decision-making process on whether to grant special approval for one-person trains crew operations,” the Transportation Department said.
The rule comes a year after Buttigieg blamed the railroad industry for putting up “vigorous resistance” to any safety changes that would lead to costly upgrades. He accused the industry at the time of putting “profit and expediency” over safety.
“Today’s final rule acknowledges the important role both crew members 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,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose.



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