The following is an article written by SMART Transportation Division Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy and was originally published on the Illinois State Legislative Board website,
Upon the urging of SMART, the Will County Board passed a resolution supporting the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) proposed two-person crew rule. The deadline to submit comments on the propose rule is May 16, 2016. Click here to submit your comments.

Will County Board passes resolution supporting FRA’s proposed two-person crew rule



JOLIET, Ill.—A coordinated effort recently among SMART TD and SMART led to the passage of a resolution in support of FRA’s proposed two person crew rule by the Will County Board.

The resolution passed unanimously last Thursday at the regular meeting of the Will County Board after passing unanimously out of the Legislative Committee on April 12.
“When FRA announced its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for two person crews, SMART TD State Directors were encouraged to garner support for the pending rule,” said SMART TD Illinois State Director Robert W. Guy.
“What better way to show support than by having a rail-intensive community pass a resolution in support of FRA’s proposed rule and submitting it as part of the docket,” Guy said.
The strong relationship between our Illinois members of SMART TD and SMART really paid off in this effort.
“Once we got our marching orders from our national legislative office I met with Don Moran,” Guy said. “Brother Don is a Business Representative for SMART Local 265 out of Carol Stream, but also serves on the Will County Board.”
“When I briefed Don on the pending rule he immediately saw the potential negative implications for his community should rail carriers be allowed to operate trains with a lone crew member,” Guy said. “He was more than happy to introduce and shepherd through the supportive resolution.”
“The overwhelming support for the resolution is a testament to Don’s hard work,” Guy said. “We owe a big thank you to Don and his colleagues on the Board.”
“The ground work that Don accomplished really showed when I addressed the Board at their meeting last week,” Guy said. “After explaining what the proposed rule would do the Board passed the resolution unanimously.”
That local support should way heavy on FRA when they consider all comments received in regards to the proposed rule. It’s communities like Will County that have the potential to suffer most if rail carriers are allowed to operate trains with one crew member.
“This kind of support reinforces the results of the extensive polling SMART-TD has conducted over the past few years regarding crew size,” Guy said. “Citizens overwhelmingly have shown that they don’t want trains running through their communities with less than two people on board.”

The Resolution as passed by the Will County Board:
Resolution in Support of FRA Crew Size Rule
WHEREAS, the safe operation of freight and passenger trains are vital to commerce; and Will County supports efforts to keep train operations safe in our (state, county)
WHEREAS, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding adequate staffing on trains, a factor we believe is
vital to ensuring safe train operations; and
WHEREAS, national studies show that a minimum of two on-board crew members are vital to operate a train safely and minimize the likelihood of train-related accidents; and
WHEREAS, virtually all trains in North America are already operated by crews of at least two individuals, making the economic impact of this proposed rule minimal; and
WHEREAS, the FRA agrees that, while advancements in automated technology such as Positive Train Control (PTC) systems improve railroad safety, they are not a substitute for a train’s on-board crew members.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Will County Board hereby supports the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed ruling, requiring that trains operated in America be operated by no less than a two-person crew.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Clerk shall send a copy of this Resolution to the United States Department of Transportation in the form of comments in support of the proposed federal rule.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Preamble of this Resolution is hereby adopted as if fully set herein. This Resolution shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval as provided by law.


CHICAGO — The Federal Railroad Administration told SMART Transportation Division it has filed a violation against the Union Pacific Railroad in response to a union complaint that the railroad ordered a train crew to work outside its assigned territory while being piloted by a manager who was not qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory.

FRA Region IV Administrator Steve Illich informed SMART TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy of the agency’s action in a letter dated October 27.

The incident under investigation by the FRA was reported to the Illinois Legislative Board by a member of the crew of a Bloomington-based local assigned to UP’s Springfield Subdivision.

Although the southern boundary of the territory for which the crew was qualified ends at Milepost 222, Carlinville, Ill., the May 28 job was ordered to retrieve some maintenance-of-way equipment spotted at milepost 234 near Shipman, Ill., 12 miles further south in territory over which none of the crew members were qualified.

“The standard procedure in such cases is to supply the crew with a pilot, normally a fellow transportation employee, who is qualified over the territory,” Guy said.

“But it turned out the UP manager assigned as pilot wasn’t qualified on that territory either,” Guy said. “In fact, he had never been over that track on a moving train, and he not only admitted his lack of qualification but claimed it wasn’t important.”

In his report to the SMART TD Illinois State Legislative Board, the conductor said that he and the engineer, “made it very clear that we were not comfortable having a pilot that he himself [admitted] was not qualified on the territory. His reply was that it was CTC, how hard could it be?”

The conductor asked the manager whether he had a copy of the work orders for the assignment. The manager allegedly replied that all he needed to know was that the ballast undercutter, two flat cars and two hopper cars of ballast were restricted to 25 miles-per-hour.

“The only paperwork I saw was that he had a timetable,” the conductor told the legislative board.

Guy said the crew handled the incident in exactly the right way.

“They notified the manager pilot that they weren’t comfortable,” Guy said. “Then once their tour was over they documented the incident and forwarded the details to local SMART TD officers for handling.”

“The FRA investigator in charge even noted the accuracy of the crew members’ statements regarding the manager pilot,” Guy said. “Once confronted, another UP manager stated that the pilot was not qualified on that segment of track.”

Guy also said he was “appalled” by the cavalier attitude of the manager pilot as witnessed by the crew involved in the May 28 incident.

“It’s not just that this official violated Part 240.231 of Section 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations,” Guy said. “It’s that he did it in such a flagrant and dismissive manner.”

Guy said the manager’s attitude is even more inappropriate in view of the territory where his violation occurred.

“The UP main line between Joliet and Alton has been one continual construction zone so it can be upgraded for 110-mph Amtrak service,” Guy said.

“This territory is full of equipment and manpower, and the track and bridge work migrates to different locations every day,” Guy said.

“Slow orders, Form Bs and other notices related to train movements can be issued and abolished quickly, which is why a crew unfamiliar with the track needs a pilot who knows not only the geography of the alignment but the way the railroad is using it from moment to moment.

“If a train crew is not familiar with the pilot assigned to their job, they should always question the qualifications of that pilot to determine if in fact the person is suitable to serve in that capacity.”


SMART Transportation Division’s Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy responded to a “letter to the editor” published in the Nov. 5 issue of the The News-Gazette and Guy’s letter was published by the newspaper Nov. 13.

The original letter by Corrine Ann Williams of the Heritage Foundation was a call to stop increased funding for Amtrak and put the carrier “on a path toward privatization.”

Guy’s response is below.

“A recent letter about Amtrak from the Heritage Foundation regurgitated tired arguments that Amtrak critics have spewed for decades, that Amtrak receives taxpayer assistance, doesn’t run on-time, should be privatized and (my favorite) blamed the workforce, yet dismisses ridership records attained nearly every year for a decade.

“The author gripes about taxpayer assistance but omits the fact that roads and aviation don’t nearly pay for themselves and rely on public support; the state of the highway trust fund and its seemingly yearly bailout is proof enough.

“The author slams Amtrak for on-time performance but admits it’s the freight railroads’ fault, yet insists that’s no excuse. Handling of Amtrak by their freight “hosts” is a huge problem, especially Chicago-Champaign, which is why Amtrak is taking action, having the Surface Transportation Board investigate Amtrak’s handling by Canadian National Railway.

“The author blames the unionized workforce for their “above-market” wages. What market? These aren’t 9-to-5 jobs. Amtrak’s highly skilled, trained, safety-sensitive employees work 24/7 every single day serving the most precious cargo, passengers.

“Finally, the author retreads “privatization.” Forty-plus years ago, Congress allowed railroads to shed passenger service; it wasn’t profitable. If these same private railroads, while enjoying record revenue and profits, could make passenger rail profitable, they would. But they can’t, so they don’t!

“Amtrak should be accountable to taxpayers. But, with a generation of young people driving less to stay electronically connected and relocating to locales with public transportation, why starve a transportation mode Americans are obviously demanding.”

Bob Guy

State Director, Illinois Legislative Board,
International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers,
Transportation Division