WASHINGTON, DC -- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced plans today to develop a new rule that would require a minimum of two- person crews on crude oil trains and other crew size standards for freight and passenger rail operations. The proposed rule aligns with legislation introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree last summer, H.R. 3040, the Safe Freight Act, which enjoys bipartisan support and would ensure a minimum of two-person crews on all freight trains.
The FRA also announced plans for a rulemaking on train securement and the need for a rulemaking on the shipments of hazardous materials.
"Rail transportation is critical to our economy, but trains often carry hazardous materials through our communities -- so we must ensure they are operating as safely as possible," said Michaud. "Expert witnesses at a number of hearings have confirmed that multiple-person crews enhance safety. This rule will be an important step toward preventing another tragedy like the one in Lac-Megantic. I applaud the FRA's efforts to establish minimum crew sizes and to improve train securement and hazmat shipments, and I hope the administration moves quickly to adopt these important rules."
"Having two crew on a train carrying tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil is really the least we can do to improve safety," Pingree said. "This is a commonsense rule that is long overdue."
Reps. Michaud and Pingree introduced H.R. 3040 following the 2013 rail accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, just miles from Maine. The train derailment killed nearly 50 people and destroyed more than 40 buildings. The freight train had been operated by a single person crew before it was left unattended for the night -- with the locomotive running.