Name: HR 1748 Safe Freight Act S1979
Employed as: Conductor, for 10-20 years
Posted: 20 August 2019
Great news guys we are building steam. The states have filed lawsuit
against the FRA in support of the Safe Freight Act. Thanks for all the
help and support. Here is he latest news
1. Protect the TWO MAN CREW BILL (HR 1748 Safe Freight Act) It’s about
public safety and jobs.
2. Go to SMART-UNION.org/td
Click on the Red button support two person crews on the right side of
division home page.
2. Enter contact info ( this is needed to direct the email to your
member of congress.
3. Click Send. The pre-drafted my essage will be sent directly to your
member of congress.
4. This effects railroad retirement, retired railroaders, current
railroaders there’s even a spot for the general public to make there
voice be heard. Please take action there is 175,000 conductors and
59,000 engineers that need this support not to mention public safety at
5. safety of the crews and the public must come first!
The states of Illinois, Nevada and Washington are among the latest
states that have decided to fight a federal order that prevents states
from passing laws that would require freight trains to have a train
crew size of at least two individuals.
Nevada has filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit asking the court to review a May action by the Federal
Railroad Administration (FRA) that prevents states from passing laws
mandating train crew size.
The FRA had said in May that it was no longer seeking a proposed
rulemaking requiring freight trains to have more than one crew member
under certain conditions. The agency said its decision to withdraw the
proposed rulemaking on train crew sizes also preempts the state laws
that mandate otherwise.
That in turn prompted Nevada, which passed a law earlier this year on
train crew size, to ask the court’s help in reviewing the FRA’s
“Nevada is aggrieved by the provisions…because they infringe, without
lawful authority, upon Nevada’s sovereign interest in enforcing its own
health and safety statute on the subject of train crew staffing,”
Nevada’s Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a July 29 petition.
Defendants listed in the petition were the U.S. Department of
Transportation and the FRA.
Ford continued, “Additionally, the decision to preempt state and local
laws was arbitrary and capricious and without an evidentiary basis.
Accordingly, Nevada requests that the Court set aside the FRA’s
In addition to Nevada’s petition, the California Public Utilities
Commission filed a similar request (also with the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Ninth Circuit) on July 25, while Washington state Attorney
General Robert W. Ferguson filed his state’s petition on July 29.
While these state petitions are pending before federal court, Illinois
last week passed a state law requiring train crews to have at least two
members on board.
On August 9 Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed Senate Bill 24,
which requires freight trains to have at least two crew members while
in Illinois. The requirement is effective on January 1, 2020. Illinois
follows other states that have passed similar legislation in recent
months, including Colorado and Nevada.
Union members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
“worked so hard to lobby for passage of this much needed safety
legislation,” said the group’s president, Dennis R. Pierce.
“Legislation such as this proves that American citizens and their
elected leaders have a great deal of concern regarding the safety of
railroads that travel through our country. They understand the need to
have adequately staffed trains in order to maintain the highest levels
Whether the new law has traction is unclear because of the FRA’s
declaration in May regarding train crew size.
But the Illinois bill states that its mandate “shall remain in effect
until a federal law or rule encompassing the subject matter has been
The SMART Union – Transportation Division (SMART-TD) is taking legal
action against the FRA’s withdrawal of its proposed rulemaking. Leaders
of the union also said it will seek to work with the states’ attorneys
general and lobby Congress for a federal rule on train crew size.
“There is going to be a big push coming,” said SMART-TD president John
Previsich at the union’s regional meeting on July 3. The union is also
petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according
to court filings.
The FRA declined to comment because of pending litigation.
Meanwhile, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which has said
that train crew size is an issue that should be negotiated between the
railroads and the unions, reiterated its support of the May decision by
the FRA to withdraw the proposed rulemaking on train crew size.
“After a lengthy and thorough process of evidence collection and
analysis, a public comment period and a public hearing, the FRA
concluded that a federal crew size regulation was unnecessary and
inappropriate because there is no data suggesting two-person crews are
safer than one,” AAR said.
AAR continued, “The federal rail safety regulator made clear that its
decision was intended to preempt any state legislative action on the
matter, consistent with federal law and the national transportation
policy of a uniform federal system of rail safety regulation.”
Train crew sizes and longer trains
The debate over train crew size continues amid concerns by the union
and some politicians that the safety concerns that could come from
longer trains warrant crew sizes of at least two people. A Senate bill
was introduced earlier this summer addressing train crew size, while
the Illinois legislation cites longer trains for the bill’s rationale.
The transportation of hazardous and volatile materials on trains,
“coupled with substantially longer trains, creates significant health,
safety and security concerns for local communities,” the bill said.
“Adequate railroad operating personnel are critical to ensuring
railroad operational safety and security and in supporting first
responder activities in the event of a hazardous material incident,
grade crossing incident or mechanical failure.”
The unions also cited longer trains as an argument for two-person train
“At a time when freight trains are increasingly longer and carrying the
most hazardous of chemicals through our communities, common sense tells
us that response time to critical incidents involving trains is surely
enhanced when a safe and adequate train crew size of at least two
individuals are deployed, which is already the industry norm today and
should be well into the future,” said Bob Guy, SMART TD legislative
director for Illinois.
While train crew size has been the focus of the debate on the merits of
the new Illinois law, the law also addresses rail crossings. The law
details penalties for blocking a highway-grade rail crossing for longer
than 10 minutes under certain timeframes and locations, and it prohibits
a train from blocking emergency responders at rail crossings if the
train crew is aware that the train is blocking the crossing.
View This Article