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The Federal Railroad Administration’s two-person crew rule announced earlier this month — which requires railroads to “staff every train operation with a minimum of two crewmembers (including a locomotive engineer and an additional crewmember who will typically be a conductor)…” — is an important and long-awaited action by federal regulators. A copy of the final rule is available from the Federal Register.

However, beefing up federal regulation is just one battlefront in the ongoing fight to improve rail safety and maintain safe staffing levels. The BLET continues to pursue rail safety legislation on the state level and in the halls of Congress to protect the safety of all railroad workers and the general public and more action is needed.

Last week, U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a “Dear Colleague” letter said the Railway Safety Act is one of the handful of key items he wants to see addressed and scheduled for debate during this session.

On the state level, BLET State Legislative Board Chairmen are being encouraged to continue their pursuit of rail safety legislation. Eleven states have now passed two-person crew bills and many other rail safety reforms also have been moved at the statehouse level due to ongoing pressure from BLET and others in rail labor. These are hard-fought legislative battles that often face vetos from governors doing the railroads’ bidding.

Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin recently vetoed a two-person crew bill. This week, BLET First Vice President Mark Wallace spoke to NPR’s Virginia affiliate about the Youngkin veto and the importance of two-person crew legislation. Read or listen to the story here.

BLET National President Eddie Hall said the need to enshrine the two-person crew regulation into federal law is evident. Less than a week after the rule was announced, four railroads filed suit in federal appeals court to block its implementation. President Hall told the Associated Press the legal challenges were just another sign that the industry continues to “place profits over safety.” Identical challenges were filed in different appellate courts on behalf of Union Pacific, BNSF, the Indiana Railroad, and the Florida East Coast Railway. “This move by the railroads was predictable,” President Hall said. “The railroads and their trade association appeal every safety reform.”