Does this sound right? As freight train crews have gotten smaller, freight trains themselves have gotten longer. If that causes you to scratch your head and wonder what is happening on our railroad tracks, you are not alone.
The Federal Railroad Administration has to decide whether it should mandate that trains have a minimum crew size. Battle lines have been drawn between the usual suspects who, as usual, appear to be on opposite sides of the issue. On one side the railroad industry on the other the railroad unions.
As you would expect, the railroad industry is at odds with railroad unions, railroad employees, and their families. The railroad industry says that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that trains with two-person crews are safer than trains operated with a single crew member. Railroad unions, who have seen train crews get smaller through collective bargaining agreements, disagree. In the 1960’s freight trains usually had five crew members. Now, freight train crews usually comprise of two members: one engineer responsible for operating the locomotive and one conductor responsible for the train itself and the freight it is carrying.
The railroad unions are urging the FRA to make a rule requiring crews to have a two person minimum, with no exceptions. There are too many duties involved in train operation for a single person to handle.
What makes this position sensible is that freight train length is increasing. One hundred to two hundred car long trains are now the norm. A two mile train has about 192 cars, takes 40 minutes to walk from end to end and is as long as 35 football fields. Aren’t we safer having at least a two person crew on a train that size as opposed to one crew member responsible for train operation and at the same time the train and freight?
For more information about how the experienced Pennsylvania labor & employment lawyers at Williams Cedar can assist you, call 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777, or contact us online. We offer free consultations and represent clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and across the country.