In response to the Federal Railroad Administration dropping a rule that would require a two-man crew in locomotives, the state of Ohio is upping the stakes.
House Bill 186 would make a two-person crew a requirement in Ohio and also lays out fines for those railroad companies who do not follow the law. The penalties range from up to $1,000 for a first violation to as much as $10,000 for a third violation within three years of the first.
“Railroads are a very important part of commerce, but if you start thinking about what’s carried in a rail car, what kind of havoc that could wreak on your districts and your communities, I think it is a common sense solution to require a two-man train crew,” Ohio Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer told the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
However, notes Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner, “There already is a mandate, nationwide, for two-person crews on every Class I railroad owing to labor agreements in force. Thus, the Ohio legislation is academic and will remain so until there is a labor agreement permitting one-person crews, or if the Class I railroads, after a breakdown in the next round of labor talks, choose to impose one-person crews unilaterally and spark a work stoppage.”
The measure also will require railroads to illuminate rail yards as outlined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and to construct walkways next to tracks wherever employees perform switching activities. Trains would not be able to block grade crossings for emergency vehicles. If a train delays an emergency vehicle the railroad company could be fined up to $5,000.