RGF leads coalition in opposition to proposed Biden Administration Crew Size Rule

The Rio Grande Foundation recently led a diverse coalition of 19 state policy think tanks in submitting comments in opposition to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) proposed Train Crew Size Safety Requirements Rule (Docket Number FRA20210032;RIN 2130AC88). You can find the comments here.

As employers across the nation struggle to find enough employees, the Biden Administration wishes to impose a 2 person crew size mandate on railroads. In 2016, the FRA stated that it could not “provide reliable or conclusive statistical data to suggest whether oneperson crew operations are generally safer or less safe than multipleperson crew operations.” And, in 2019, the FRA concluded that, “Accident/incident data does not support a train crew staffing regulation.”

As the letter states:

The proposed rule also ignores technological advances in rail safety made in recent years, including Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC is now operating on tens of thousands of miles of rail line across the country, tracking speed restrictions on a given portion of track, as well as signals and communications, while preventing human error. PTC’s safety advances make it unnecessary for two crew members to be present in the cab of the train.

This proposed rule fails to account for these technological innovations, as well as the safety record of many railroads, including thousands of Amtrak and commuter passenger trains that operate with only one crew member in the train cab.