Federal agencies Rail Transportation

More time to comment on FRA proposal to codify train crew size requirements

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Washington — The Federal Railroad Administration has extended until Dec. 2 the comment period on a proposed rule that would require at least two crew members for most trains.

According to a notice published in the Sept. 22 Federal Register, FRA will schedule a public hearing to provide stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the proposal and to discuss further development of the regulation. The initial comment deadline was Sept. 26.

The proposal calls for regulations establishing safe minimum requirements for the size of train crews depending on the type of operation. This minimum requirement is proposed for all railroad operations except for those that don’t pose significant safety risks to railroad employees, the public or the environment. Other exceptions would include trains working as a helper service, as well as those consisting of only a locomotive or a locomotive attached to only a caboose.

In addition, the rule would establish requirements for the location of crew members on a moving train – ensuring they can always communicate with each other – and would prohibit trains without two crew members from transporting certain quantities and types of hazardous materials.

An increase in physical tasks and cognitive demands can lead to task overload or loss of situational awareness for single crew members, FRA says, citing research on the topic.

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