After FRA rule, Jared Cassity explains why we still need the Rail Safety Act

April 18, 2024

SMART-TD’s Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity was featured on an episode of America’s Workforce Union Podcast, covering a wide range of rail industry topics including the hostile takeover attempt at Norfolk Southern, the FRA’s 2PC ruling, the Railway Safety Act to East Palestine, Ohio, and beyond.

“Safety does cost some money sometimes — but [the railroads are] still making billions of dollars in each quarter. There’s no rationale to cut the safety aspect out of it,” Cassity told host Ed “Flash” Ferencz. “They make money despite themselves.”

Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity addresses a rail labor solidarity rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in December 2022 on the day before the FRA’s hearing on the two-person crew rule.

Cassity continues, “so their interest isn’t really in preventing accidents. [They ask] is it cheaper to make all these changes to prevent it, or is it cheaper to clean it up? And if you look at Norfolk Southern, if you look at this policy and you look at what Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB just said, blowing up those cars [in East Palestine] didn’t have to happen. The railroad chose to take the fastest, easiest course. It’s not about safety. It’s about the bottom line.”

“So the Rail Safety Act is working to fix that. This is a perfect example of why elections matter.”

“The crews aren’t always aware of what is going on with their trains. Like in East Palestine, there were defects that were actually happening as they were going down the rail and making their trip. In your car, the check engine light comes on to tell you there’s a problem, that wasn’t happening for the crews. What was happening is that the notification was going to some backroom with a manager sitting in Atlanta, Georgia, and then they were making the decision of whether or not to tell the crew if they should stop the train. And it’s just a completely bonkers notion of how you run that.”

“And for them to say that there’s no safety data or anything of that nature is not true, because everything that we have today is because of the two-person crew. But the unfortunate reality of this is all of the success stories, all of the accidents that are prevented, all of the things that didn’t happen because of the second person in the crew is not recorded or captured or reported in any capacity by the railroads to anyone.”

Brother Cassity is an authority on rail safety. He came from the craft working as a conductor and engineer out of the Russell, Kentucky, crew base for CSX. A longtime member of the National Safety Team before leading it, Cassity participates in federal investigations of rail safety mishaps. When national media outlets want to discuss safety regulations on America’s railroads, Brother Cassity is consistently at the top of their lists.

SMART-TD wants to thank Brother Cassity for a job well done, amplifying our concerns and discussing our victories with a nationwide audience.