Nevada Senate Bill 427 (S.B. 427), sponsored by Nevada State Senator Mark Manendo (D – Dist. 21), seeks to restore a requirement in Nevada’s laws regarding the minimum number of persons operating freight trains in the state.
The bill comes in response to interest expressed by freight railroad carriers nationwide in reducing the current crew size for most cross-country freight trains from two persons to a single operator. Railroad workers oppose such action, citing what they see as a compromise in safety with regard to further crew size reductions.
“In an incident such as a derailment resulting in the release of hazardous materials, the elimination of a crew member from freight trains would cause delay in notification to emergency responders. That creates an unacceptable risk to the public,” said SMART TD Nevada State Legislative Director Jason Doering.
“The desire to pursue single-person operations of freight trains clearly represents placing cost reduction and profits ahead of responsibility for ensuring that movement of freight by rail through the communities of Nevada takes place in the safest possible manner,” added Matt Parker, chairman of the Nevada state legislative board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
Nevada law previously specified a minimum crew size for freight trains in the state. The crew size requirement in that law was repealed in 1985 to accommodate changes to collective bargaining agreements negotiated between rail carriers and the labor unions representing their transportation craft employees.
“Had we foreseen the day that rail carriers would seek single-operator crews, we most certainly would not have supported repeal of Nevada’s previous crew consist requirements, instead insisting upon a modification to the law,” said retired UTU Nevada State Legislative Director Rodney Nelms, who participated in the 1985 legislative action.
S.B. 427 passed the Senate Committee on Transportation with a 3-2 vote. You can find the bill here: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/79th2017/Bill/5505/Overview
A special thanks goes out from Doering to Sen. Manendo for sponsoring S.B. 427. Doering asks that members contact their Nevada state senators and ask them to support S.B. 427. Members can contact their state senators directly by visiting the Nevada State Senate website.