Due to the importance of the issue and the record response, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has extended the comment period for the Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on a two-person minimum freight crew size rule, the SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Department reports.

The new deadline for SMART-TD members, rail labor and the public to let their voices be heard in this pivotal conversation about the safety of U.S. railroad operations is now Dec. 21st, 2022.

“Please keep the pressure on and the pedal down as we fight together for our safety and our jobs,” said National Legislative Director Greg Hynes. “We’ve blown well past the level of comments that the prior NPRM received after it was introduced in 2016, getting almost 10 times the number of comments it received.

“There are a lot of things going on, but we need to keep spreading the word about the Rule of 2 and how it is essential to rail safety. If you have not commented on how important it is to maintain rail staffing at the current safe level, you still have time to do so!”

Members who have not yet posted a comment to the FRA in support of the Rule of 2, or who have a spouse or family member who would like to do so should please follow this link.

An instructional video about how to file a comment is available here.

New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol met with federal Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Westfield, N.J., an encounter that was later featured in a video produced by the DOT and then shared on Buttigieg’s official Twitter account in conjunction with Labor Day on Sept. 6.
Sabol, of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.), met Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 9 and discussed his career as a freight rail conductor, remote-control operator and as a SMART-TD union officer.
“I got involved in my union right away, and that’s because of safety,” Sabol told Buttigieg. “Railroading is the most dangerous job in the country.”
A member of the SMART-TD National Safety Team, N.J. SLD since December 2016, and also his local’s president, Sabol reminded the Transportation Secretary of something that sometimes is lost among the public.
“Our railroads and bus operators, which we represent as well, they’re first responders,” he said.
Sabol recalled the efforts made by TD members to help evacuate people in tunnels during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.
“They’re heroes.”
Sabol also said that the passage of infrastructure legislation will improve with an expansion of service, better accessibility to riders and improved safety for a number of TD members.
“The best part of my job is being able to help people,” Sabol said. “As you the mayor were able to help all those people, I do it at a different level with a different group of people.”
Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be increasingly important as regulatory efforts develop to make the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and certified engineer — enforced on freight trains throughout the United States.
The Biden administration announced earlier in the year that FRA is revisiting the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding freight train crew size and would be prioritized at some point in the autumn.