October 11, 2023

SMART Transportation Division Vice President Brent Leonard, left, shakes hands with Gov. Laura Kelly as National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo, right, look on.

Updated comment from Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo:

“I want to thank everyone involved; this was a team effort.  And what an honor to have Vice President Brent Leonard and National State Legislative Director Greg Hynes in attendance during the signing ceremony. We have much more to do and won’t stop here!

“Today is a win for rail workers, the public, and our union. None of this could have been done without the steadfast support from our international president, international officers, GCAs, SLDs, local officers and members fighting for our legislative efforts in their communities. The regulation is one of the strongest and clearest in the nation.” 

Read the full release from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s office below.

For Immediate Release:         
October 11, 2023

Governor Kelly Announces Kansas Two-Person Crew Rule in Effect to Improve Safety for Kansas Railroad Workers

Rule Officially Makes Kansas 10th State in Country with Strengthened Safety Requirement

TOPEKA — Governor Laura Kelly announced that to improve safety for workers and Kansas communities, Kansas today put into effect the rule requiring railroads operating in the state to have at least two railroad crew members in the lead locomotive. Kansas is now the tenth state in the country with this safety requirement.

“Kansans’ safety and security must always come first, and that includes the safety of our railroad crew members,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This requirement will protect workers from the effects of fatigue, prevent train derailments, and reduce risks in the many Kansas communities along our railroad tracks.”

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Kansas is in the top 25 states for highway-rail grade crossing collisions, resulting in five deaths and 14 injuries in 2022 alone. Derailments resulted in nearly $10 million in damage in 2022.

Governor Kelly first announced she had directed the Kansas Department of Transportation to propose the requirement in May 2023. Before the regulation was implemented, it was subject to at least a 60-day public comment period. Organizations including the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) have supported this rule.

Governor Kelly also met with SMART International President Jeremy R. Ferguson and SMART Transportation Division Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo today to celebrate the rule.

“This bipartisan two-person crew regulation is monumental for the safety of all Kansans and for our crews that operate day in and day out within this great state. We have all worked hard to show that safety comes first, and corporate profits will never be placed ahead of all the citizens of this great state,” said Jeremy R. Ferguson, SMART International President. “I want to thank all the people who supported this regulation, and we, as the leaders in rail transportation, congratulate you on achieving one of the most common-sense standards in rail safety that will now be the law of the land. I also want to thank Governor Kelly for directing her agency to promulgate this rule, and we are also very proud of her longstanding leadership on rail safety. We look forward to working together with everyone to make Kansas even safer wherever we can!”

“This is a banner day for Kansas communities and the Kansas workers that operate trains throughout the state. The industry norm is and has been a two-person operation; however, as trains grow longer and heavier, it is vital that a minimum safety standard is established. In many instances across the state, trains can range from 8500 feet weighing a few hundred tons to over 4 miles long and 20,000+ tons,” said Ty Dragoo, SMART Transportation Division Kansas State Legislative Director.

“It still takes a minimum of two individuals, regardless of size, to safely move and respond to emergencies as they arise throughout the state; an on-scene crew to mitigate emergencies as they arise the second an accident happens is paramount. This regulation ensures Kansas communities and citizens have the already widely accepted industry-wide minimum standard in place for their safety. Governor Kelly has always chosen Kansas people and made public safety her priority, and that commitment continues today. We thank her for her continued leadership in transportation safety throughout the state.”

The majority of railroads in Kansas are currently operating two-person crews and will have no increased labor costs from the implementation of this regulation.