Federal agencies Rail Transportation

Train crew size requirements: FRA to host public hearing in December

Photo: Blurra/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Railroad Administration has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed rule that would require at least two crew members for most trains.

Set for 9:30 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 14, the hearing will take place virtually and in-person at the National Association of Home Builders headquarters in Washington, according to a notice published in the Oct. 27 Federal Register.

In light of the announced hearing, FRA again is extending – to Dec. 21 – the deadline to comment on the proposed rule to allow time for interested parties to submit comments on the proposal or in response to views or information provided during the hearing. The agency initially published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the July 28 Federal Register, with a comment deadline of Sept. 26, which was then extended to Dec. 2.


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.

Citing research, FRA notes that an increase in physical tasks and cognitive demands can lead to task overload or a loss of situational awareness for single crew members.

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