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Biden Administration Mandates Two-Person Freight Rail Crews

Large freight railroads will soon be required to maintain current staffing levels of two crew members per train on most routes, The New York Times (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it had finalized a new rule that will require the nation’s largest freight railroads to maintain their current staffing of two crew members per train.”

  • Until now there have not been any federal regulations requiring a specific crew size, though the largest freight railroads tend to have two workers—an engineer and a conductor—per train.

The context: Railroad safety has been in the spotlight since last year, when a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

However … That train had three crew members aboard and is thought to have derailed due to an overheated wheel bearing.

  • Those who disagree with the new rule say there is “no proven connection” between crew size and train safety.

States take action: Eleven states have already passed legislation requiring at least two crew members on every train, according to Freight Waves.  

What’s next: The federal rule will go into effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

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