Just four months ago in Quebec, a runaway train carrying 72 cars of crude oil killed 47 people and demolished the town of Lac-Megantic. The accident occurred after a crew member, working alone, parked the train uphill from the town for the night. Unmanned, the train rolled down the track and exploded. Though the official investigation is ongoing, this devastating accident is the most recent reminder of the safety challenges that face this industry and the need for a federal mandate requiring at least a two-person crew on every U.S. freight train.
In the aftermath of this accident, Canada issued an emergency directive requiring a minimum of two-person crews for trains carrying hazardous materials. Here in the U.S., the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released an Emergency Order directing railroads to take specific, immediate precautions to prevent a similar accident. The agency also instructed its Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) to examine the issue of crew size. While we applaud these actions, any RSAC recommendation must garner a consensus from stakeholders and given that the rail companies have consistently opposed two-person crew mandates, we are concerned that this process will not produce the change in policy that is so urgently needed.
Click here to read the full release from the TTD.