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On Tuesday, April 2, 2024, the FRA issued a final rule to ensure adequate staffing for railroads. The FRA cites a “troubling trend” in rail safety as necessitating this rule and intends to be proactive in prioritizing safety among train crews as well as the public. The FRA noted that accidents attributed to “human factors” increased from .95 accidents per million train miles to 1.34 accidents per million train miles between 2013 and 2022 (a 41.1% increase).

Among other provisions, this rule requires that a minimum of two crewmembers be assigned to trains carrying certain hazardous materials. The rule requires that railroads staff every train operation with two crewmembers who travel with the train and are able to directly communicate with each other. The final rule also allows for certain one-person crews as an exception, but requires additional risk assessment, reporting and some FRA oversight and approval.

This final rule follows a proposed rule with a significant number of comments submitted on behalf of the railroads, unions, workers and members of the public. The Association of American Railroads, the trade organization that lobbies for the railroad corporate interests, issued a statement calling the rule an “overreach” by the FRA. More information about this final rule is expected once the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

For further questions, or if you have sustained an injury as a railroad worker, please don’t hesitate to contact Doran & Murphy today.