As the clock was running out for him to act Friday night, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin decided he was against public safety, common sense and protecting Virginia railroad workers’ jobs and pensions. He vetoed a bill that required a minimum two-person crew on Virginia’s freight trains. Fortunately, the clock is also running out on his term as Governor.

An irresponsible choice

Both a certified conductor and an engineer are required to safely operate a long train responsibly, although railroads would like to find ways to eliminate one or both positions over time. SMART-TD is fighting to protect responsible crew sizes across the United States. Conductors are often the first people on site when there is an accident or derailment, and they often monitor the track or train while the engineer operates the engine. A two-person job requires a two-person crew (2PC).

 As the rhetoric heats up this election year, conductors and other SMART-TD members are putting practical results ahead of their political party. Transportation workers throughout the country are watching to determine whether a politician is with us, or against us.

Rather than keeping his constituents safe and his state’s economy running, Youngkin placed more value in big business and the campaign dollars railroads can deposit in his political piggybank.

Make no mistake: Gov. Youngkin and those who chose not to support the two-person crew bill in Virginia are acting AGAINST us!

It’s not about party

In recent years, SMART-TD Virginia State Legislative Director (SLD) Ronnie Hobbs has worked with legislators along the political spectrum to advance our 2PC bill. Brother Hobbs and his team got 2PC (Senate Bill 143) through both chambers and the joint conference committee. Regrettably, Youngkin decided to reject the work of both parties when he used his veto power to reward railroad shareholders when he should have protected his citizens.

“I want to thank all of the legislators in this state for the time they took to learn about the role of freight conductors in Virginia,” Hobbs said. “We have found so many great partners and allies in this process of making the case for 2PC. I want to thank Delegate Shelly Simonds and Senator Jennifer Carroll Foy for sponsoring our legislation and championing our members’ cause from beginning to end. Most importantly, I’d like to thank them for their continued interest in our cause, which goes beyond this ill-advised veto.”

The fight for Virginia crews continues in 2025

Though disappointed, Hobbs and his powerful team of Virginia allies are still in the fight, with an eye on the 2025 election.

Abigail Spanberger, a member of Congress, is running for governor. Spanberger has sponsored federal action on 2PC in every legislative session since 2018, proving she is interested in our issues and sees value in our work. Spanberger’s ACTIONS demonstrate that she is 100% with us in our pursuit of a minimum crew size.

“I want to personally thank every member of SMART here in Virginia, who took the time and effort to contact their legislators and come to the hearings,” Hobbs said. “The tremendous effort made by you and your friends/family was noticed, and you were heard. Unfortunately, Gov. Youngkin was too busy listening to Wall Street to pay attention.”

More help will be needed in 2025 and beyond. With Youngkin’s departure, Spanberger in the governorship and the Virginia members rallying support in the Legislature, Virginia will join our growing number of 2PC states. When we win enough states, SMART-TD will have won the nation.

Kansas is a state with a population of only 2.94 million people — ranking as the 35th largest state in the country, population-wise. In contrast to that number, according to the American Association of Railroads’ website, Kansas ranks sixth in the nation for distance of rail with 4,252 miles. With 16 railroad companies operating in the state and this high density of rail, the industry plays a very important role in the landscape of the Jayhawk State and keeps SMART-TD’s Kansas State Legislative Director (SLD) Ty Dragoo very busy.

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo

Currently, Brother Dragoo is working for the good of our membership as well as the people of Kansas by fighting to pass Senate Bill 215, known as the Kansas Rail Safety Improvement Act (KRSIA). In SB 215, Dragoo and bill sponsor Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-31st District) have built an aggressive package aimed at reversing the effects Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) has had on the highly rail-dependent state. The railroad lobby has strong roots in Kansas and SB 271 was introduced with components of SB 215. While SB 215 is the goal, SB271 is the start in a state that has not seen any railroad safety laws passed in five decades.

Sen. McGinn introduced SB 215 in the second week of February, and it was quickly assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee. To date, SB 215 has sat on a shelf in committee having not been given a hearing for five weeks while UP scattered rail cars across the state in a pair of high-profile derailments. However, through negotiations with legislative leadership Dragoo has secured hearings on SB 271 and action is anticipated.

SB 271 will limit freight trains to a length of 8,500 feet within the state’s borders.

In order to prevent accidents at rail crossings, the bill also creates a minimum distance between road crossings and standing equipment left in sidings. The bill states that rail cars in a siding can’t be any closer than 250 feet to the edge of a road. With this 250-foot gap, the bill seeks to create clear lines of sight for motorists to be able to adequately determine if the crossing is safe to use without rail cars impairing their view of potential oncoming trains.

All in all, this bill being backed by SMART-TD is positioned to bring about significant improvement to the quality of life for Kansas rail crews. Ending the era of unrealistically large train consists, reducing the number of critical incidents at road crossings make for an impressive list of safety enhancements in a state that has seen its share of rail incidents this month. On March 4 and March 12, two separate incidents involving Union Pacific trains resulted in a combined 31 cars of mixed freight leaving the rails in Riverdale and McPherson, Kan. Though neither of the two derailments were as devastating to the communities as the toxic spill in East Palestine, Ohio, that has been grabbing headlines nationally since early February. Two of the cars in the McPherson derailment did leak denatured alcohol and caused a grass fire.

No one was hurt in either incident and officials have assured both communities that there are no immediate or long-term health threats from these two derailments. Even with this being true, the timing of these incidents has shed light on the importance of Dragoo’s bill.

The facts on the ground dictate that it’s time for the legislators in Topeka to give Brother Dragoo’s legislation strong consideration. Residents and taxpayers throughout Kansas shouldn’t settle for anything less.

It is of the highest importance for all our members in Kansas, along with their family and friends, let their state senators know that they demand action on behalf of the Transportation Committee. They need to act as soon as possible. Please follow the link provided to SMART-TD’s Legislative Action Center and enter your address. It will give you the contact information of all your state and federal representatives, then click on your state senator and take a moment to send him/her even a 2–3-line message that encourages them to take up the issues of SB 271.

The time is now to push for the passage of rail safety legislation across our country. Please put your shoulder to the wheel and help SMART-TD’s legislative department in Kansas and in every other state do the work to safeguard our brothers and sisters as well as the communities we all live in.

Legislators in Michigan introduced bills Dec. 2 in both the state House and Senate intended to keep freight rail operations on the state’s more than 3,600 miles of track running safely and efficiently.

H.B. 5596 and S.B. 767 require a crew of at least two qualified people in the operating locomotive of trains transporting cargo and hazardous materials in the state for public safety.

“It is vitally important to maintain the presence of two crew members in the locomotive,” said Don Roach, SMART Transportation Division Michigan state legislative director. “Despite any advances in technology, there is a safety factor called ‘the Rule of 2’ on the railroad. You have the engineer and the conductor in the cab, just like how airplanes have pilots and co-pilots. Right now, that’s being threatened by rail carriers who are looking to reduce costs and keep their profits high.”

“Each crew member has responsibilities and simultaneously performs duties in providing safe and efficient operation necessary with the longer trains railroads have been running. The crew members aboard are the first responders to a grade crossing collision, derailment or other emergency situation, and their reactions can mean the difference between life and death or a minor incident and a catastrophe.”

One real-life incident last year in the state drives the point home very well.

While a two-person crew of the conductor and engineer is the standard operating procedure on most freight traffic in the nation, a three-person crew, including two SMART-TD members out of Local 1709 in Pontiac, found themselves in the position where they saved a man’s life in November 2020 by applying a tourniquet after a moped rider’s legs amputated in a grade crossing accident.

This situation and many others that railroaders in Michigan encounter during the course of doing their jobs will be part of a campaign to raise awareness among the public and legislators about the necessity of keeping the standard of two people aboard, Roach said.

“The public safety of our communities is non-negotiable, and this legislation will help prevent potential accidents or derailments. The citizens of Michigan deserve to feel safer with two crew members in the cab in the trains that roll through their communities, day and night.

“The Rule of 2 matters and saves lives. A crew of two is safer for you,” Roach said.

Rep. Tim Sneller (D-Dist. 50) introduced H.B. 5596, which was co-sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Dist. 101) and:

  • Rep. John Cherry (D-Dist. 49)
  • Rep. Jim Ellison (D-Dist. 26)
  • Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Dist. 23)
  • Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Dist. 21)
  • Rep. Tullio Liberati (D-Dist. 13)
  • Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Dist. 92)
  • Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Dist. 53)
  • Rep. Lori Stone (D-Dist. 28)
  • Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Dist. 14)
  • Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Dist. 29)

The Senate bill was introduced concurrently by primary sponsor Sen. Erika Geiss (D.-Dist. 6).

Read the House bill.
Read the Senate bill.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Feb. 23, 2021) — Two of the country’s largest freight railroad unions achieved a favorable decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday regarding an attempt by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to preempt legislation passed by a number of states that established a minimum of two-person operating crews on freight trains.
The case, brought by the states of California, Washington and Nevada and by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), challenged former FRA Administrator Ron Batory’s attempt to cancel the laws of those and other states while at the same time attempting to authorize nationwide one-person crews. The unions and states argued that Batory’s May 2019 order violated the comment-and-notice procedures of Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and that his agency could not implicitly preempt the state safety rules.
The Court of Appeals ruled that FRA’s order was “arbitrary and capricious,” taking particular note that the assertions by FRA and the rail carriers that reducing the number of crew members in the cab to one person could improve safety “did not withstand scrutiny” and “was lacking.” The court also criticized the order as not being a “logical outgrowth” of the two-person crew proposal, because “[t]here was nothing in the [proposed regulation] to put a person on notice that the FRA might adopt a national one-person crew limit.”
The court chided FRA for basing its negative preemption decision on “an economic rationale” instead of what is its main obligation — safety.
The court also found the order’s “real and intended effect is to authorize nationwide one-person train crews and to bar any contrary state regulations.” In that it utterly failed to address the safety concerns raised by nearly 1,550 commenters who support two-person crews, the court found the order’s rationale was arbitrary and capricious, thus violating the APA.
Likewise, the court eviscerated the lack of a sound factual basis in the order, which merely cited a study funded by the Association of American Railroads, holding that “a single study suggesting that one-person crew operations ‘appear as safe’ as two-person crews seems a thin reed on which to base a national rule.”
“First, we thank the more than 1,500 BLET and SMART–TD members who took the time to comment on the need for two-person crews, because you have made a difference,” said SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson and BLET President Dennis R. Pierce. “We also congratulate the judges in this case for recognizing the former Administrator overstepped his bounds, and we look ahead to working with the FRA when crew size is again considered on a national level by the agency as a matter of public and operational safety.”
“We assert, and will continue to assert, that having two sets of eyes and two people working in concert together with any improvements in technology, will be the best way to serve public safety and to continue the effective and efficient movement of our nation’s railroads,” the union presidents said.
The court ruling, in vacating and remanding the FRA order, sends the matter of a potential rulemaking for freight railroad crew size back to FRA for the agency’s consideration. It also means that two-person crew legislation in the states that had been targeted by FRA’s order remain in effect.
A copy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is available here (PDF).


The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 58,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

To help combat the spread of misinformation concerning the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity has provided the following facts regarding the two-person crew provision in the bill.

The INVEST Act delivers on Two-Person crews

The INVEST Act, as written, requires a certified locomotive engineer and certified conductor on most freight trains. According to the bill, there are instances that a train may be operated with a reduced crew. Exceptions are listed below:
A freight train may be operated with a reduced crew, if:

  • The train operations are within a rail yard, terminal area, or on auxiliary or industry track
  • It does not exceed a maximum speed of 25 mph on territory with an average track grade of less than 2% for any segment of track that is at least two continuous miles
  • The locomotives are performing assistance to a train that has incurred mechanical failure or lacks the power to traverse difficult terrain, including to or from the location where assistance is provided
  • The locomotives are not attached to any equipment (except a caboose) and do not travel further than 30 miles from a rail yard
  • A location where one-person operations were being utilized one year prior to the date of enactment of this bill, only if the DOT Secretary determines that the operation achieves an equivalent level of safety (Note: The Secretary of the DOT is appointed by the President of the United States)


In addition to the above, a train may be operated with a reduced crew, if:

  • The carrier has fewer than 400,000 total employee work hours annually and an annual revenue of less than $20,000,000


  • It is transporting one or more loaded cares carrying material toxic by inhalation
  • It is carrying 20 or more loaded tank cars of a Class 2 material or a Class 3 flammable liquid in a continuous block
  • It has 35 or more loaded tank cars of a Class 2 material or a Class 3 flammable liquid throughout its consist
  • It is 7,500 feet in length or longer

The INVEST Act is poised to be the most significant piece of rail-related legislation this generation of railroaders has seen since the passage of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970.

March 20, 2020
All Members — SMART Transportation Division
Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today, House Democrats released the text of a $500 billion five-year funding authorization bill that defines their vision for the future of transportation in America, as well as outlines their plans to refresh and renew the infrastructure of the nation’s surface transportation network.

The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act is the result of countless hours of work by this Union on the Hill and in the halls of Congress. The INVEST in America Act reauthorizes funding set to expire Sept. 30, but more so, sets standards for safety, training, and transportation reform that have long been sought by the members of SMART Transportation Division including:

  • Two-Person Crews;
  • Operator Assault;
  • Yardmaster Hours of Service
  • a “Cross Border” fix.

Additionally, Amtrak would see its funding triple to $29 billion over the five-year period of the bill, allowing for expansion of national, state and regional routes and facility modernization. Funding for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program also would be increased to $7 billion to fund passenger and freight rail projects. Provisions for/or against the transportation of liquid natural gas (LNG) via rail tank cars, blocked railroad crossings, and excessive freight train length, among others, also have been included.

Our National Legislative Office has been hard at work in Washington, D.C., to convey our issues to both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House and Senate, and the provisions within this bill are the fruits of that labor.

Undoubtedly, House Democrats have heard our cries and have answered the call. By including our issues within the context of this bill, they have let America know that the only safe operation of a Class I freight train is with a two-person crew; that our bus drivers and operators have the right to a safe work environment; and that the public should be shielded from the risks that rail carriers will take in the name of greed.

But make no mistake, this bill still has a long road to travel and a lot of heavy-handed opposition standing before it in the Republican-controlled Senate. We will need all hands on deck to protect the provisions we have all fought so hard for to survive that journey.

I am asking you to please watch this bill as it moves through the legislative process and see who and what hurdles it faces. I’m asking you to please pay attention to the party affiliations of the individuals as the yeas and nays are registered when the bill is voted upon. And I am asking you to listen to the rhetoric and testimony that will affect its final appearance. Once the dust has settled, I will call on you to please support those who support you and your family’s well-being, and I firmly believe that picture will be crystal clear.

There are only two parties at the table. The Democrats wrote it into the bill, only the Republicans will take it out.

Fraternally yours,



Jeremy Ferguson
President — Transportation Division


By John Previsich, SMART TD President, and Dennis Pierce, BLET National President
On Thursday, May 23, 2019, we were informed that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) had released a notice, withdrawing a 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking establishing a minimum train crew size for most rail freight operations in the United States. This news was not surprising.
What is shocking, however, is the degree to which FRA has chosen to subordinate the safety of BLET and SMART TD members, other railroad workers, and the American public to the interests of the nation’s major railroads.
FRA’s reference to current crew sizes, which have existed for decades, as mere “crew redundancy” displays an astonishing ignorance of the findings of the agency’s own research studies, which establish — in detail and beyond dispute — the unique and specific duties of each crewmember.
FRA also disappointingly engages in self-serving fact selection in its attempts to negate the importance of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic tragedy and the Casselton, North Dakota, oil train derailment — and subsequent explosion and fire — to the crew size debate. And it simply ignores several subsequent accidents where a two-person crew saved the public from an even more horrific outcome.
In its rush to diminish the safety impact of common-sense crew size regulations, FRA also points to various regulations requiring risk analyses and the adoption of risk reduction plans by railroads. While our Organizations fully support such plans, we note that Congress mandated regulations governing these subjects more than a decade ago, but they have yet to be promulgated because of industry recalcitrance and obstructionism.
Also, the argument that two-person crews have not been proven safer — because of FRA’s failure to collect crew size data — while the data support a conclusion that single-person crews are not demonstrably less safe is mystifying in its logic, to be charitable.
Moreover, the federal rail safety regulator hints that there is no “specific requirement that would prohibit autonomous technology from operating a locomotive or train” in the absence of any human crewmember whatsoever as a means of “reducing accidents caused by human error.” If the ongoing grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft has taught nothing else, FRA and the Department of Transportation should be mindful of the danger of transferring the risk of a human factors accident from operator to programmer when autonomous technology is implemented. For this reason, FRA’s declared “support [for] the integration and implementation of new automation technologies” on the nation’s locomotives should give everyone pause.
Lastly, the Agency’s invocation of the negative preemption doctrine is incredible. Both the industry and the Agency reject prescriptive safety regulations as a philosophical matter, because they supposedly require a “one size fits all” approach; indeed, this was part of the industry’s argument against the proposed rule.
In stark contrast to this philosophy, FRA’s invocation of negative preemption seeks to promulgate a prescriptive prohibition, regardless of the implications of its action on federalism. In so doing, the valid safety concerns expressed by supporters of the proposed rule such as National League of Cities — representing more than 19,000 cities, villages, and towns — and the Western Organization of Resource Councils are dismissed out of hand.
We frankly did not expect this Administration to complete this rulemaking, but we did afford the new Federal Railroad Administrator a fair opportunity to demonstrate that safety was his primary objective. Given the scope of this withdrawal, the Administrator has clearly failed the test, because he has placed corporate profits above public safety. Railroad safety has taken a giant step backward today, but our Organizations do not intend to let this development go unchallenged.


The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents over 57,500 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22, 2019) – Two large railroad unions in the United States have pledged their joint support for the Safe Freight Act legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R – Alaska).
The Safe Freight Act (H.R. 1748) requires that two certified crew members operate freight trains on U.S. rails and has the backing of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).
“SMART Transportation Division has been working tirelessly to promote safety in the railroad industry, and there is no doubt that the only safe rail operation is one that includes at a minimum a certified conductor and a certified locomotive engineer,” SMART TD President John Previsich said. “A clear message must be sent to our lawmakers and to the general public that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Congressman Young for his leadership on this critical issue as we continue to improve safety on our nation’s railroads for both our members and for the general public.”
“This is necessary safety legislation to protect railroad workers and the American public,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “While the railroad industry talks of one-person train crews and even autonomous trains, the 2013 tragedy of Lac-Megantic is justification enough that we need two sets of eyes and ears in the locomotive cab.”
Recent well-publicized rail accidents in other nations involving trains with one or no crew members show how smaller crews increase the risk of catastrophe in railroad accidents.
In September 2018, an autonomous runaway TasRail train reached speeds of 31 mph before it derailed in the Tasmanian city of Devonport, injuring two people. The train had become unresponsive to remote control commands, including the train’s emergency stop feature.
On Nov. 5, 2018, a runaway BHP ore train of 268 cars with no one aboard reached speeds of 62 mph before it was forcibly derailed in Western Australia. The approximately 1.9-mile-long train loaded with iron ore was operated by a lone crew member who had left the locomotive to inspect an issue with the brakes when the train began moving.
And finally, an oil train with a single-person crew in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, rolled into the center of the town July 6, 2013, after its brakes disengaged. The resulting derailment touched off an inferno that killed 47 people and destroyed the town center.
In the United States, labor unions and others concerned with safety on the United States’ 140,000 miles of rail are seeking to prevent such events from happening. Legislation setting crew size at two people aboard has passed in five states. A two-person crew bill backed by both the SMART TD and BLET unions (H.B. 1034) was signed into law March 21 by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
“Automation of cars, buses, aircraft and trucks are being addressed by legislation and in regulation by the federal government and many states. It’s time the federal government provided some oversight on railroads,” SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch said. “Congressman Young’s bill is a first step, and we thank him for his leadership on this. The safety of the public and our members depend on this.”
“Safety is non-negotiable, and this legislation is about railroad safety,” BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman said. “The members of the BLET and SMART TD are highly trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to performing their jobs as safely as possible, and we thank Congressman Young for his ongoing support and for introducing H.R. 1748.”
This national legislation introduced by Young, a longtime advocate of railroad safety, is a common-sense step toward making our nation’s rails safer for workers and the public alike. It has the full endorsement of both unions.
H.R. 1748 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of different crafts, including as bus and commuter rail operators, in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs H.B. 1034 on March 21, a law making two-person freight crews required on the state’s rails.

On March 21, 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law that requires that all freight trains in the state are operated by a crew of at least two individuals.
The signing of H.B. 1034 caps a massive effort by SMART Transportation Division members that spanned years in the face of carrier opposition.
“It was a long haul and took a lot of time and energy on the part of many, many people,” Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith said. “Our concerted efforts did pay off, and it will ensure that the state’s railways stay safe with two crew members in each freight train’s cab.”
Smith and the Colorado State Legislative Board had an earlier two-person crew bill die in the state Senate in 2016, but tenaciously renewed their efforts early this year by gathering a broad group of supporters that included members from the six TD locals in the state, retirees, the Colorado AFL-CIO, Colorado Professional Firefighters, Conservation Colorado and American Federation of Teachers.
H.B. 1034 was first introduced by state Reps. Tom Sullivan and Daneya Esgar on Jan. 4, passed committee and was initially passed, 39-23, on Feb. 5 by the full House. State Sen. Jessie Danielson was the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, where it passed, 19-15, on Feb. 25 after amendment. The House passed the amended bill again March 4 by an identical 39-23 vote, putting the bill on Polis’ desk.

“Without these legislators’ understanding of the importance of this issue to the safety of our state’s railways, this would not have been possible,” Smith said.
Also helping the cause was strong public recognition by Colorado residents and legislators that train crew size is a safety-oriented issue.
On Jan. 9, the Colorado State Legislative Board released the results of a survey that showed strong support among Coloradans for a law requiring two-person crews. The survey, conducted Jan. 2 – Jan. 5, asked 550 random Colorado residents older than 18, using both cell phones and landlines, about issues centered around railroad safety. The results showed that 77 percent of Coloradans said that, given the chance, they would vote in favor of a two-person crew law.
A website ( established by the state legislative board and a coalition of TD members and members of other unions also assisted in spreading understanding about the importance of the two-person legislation in Colorado, which joins Arizona, California, West Virginia and Wisconsin as states that have legislation requiring two people to operate freight trains.
“I am very pleased that Colorado has adopted this sensible requirement,” SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch said. ”This is a matter of public safety, plain and simple. Freight railroad operations are complex and often entail the transport of highly hazardous materials; two crew members are vital to ensuring that these trains are operated safely and that our communities are secure.”
The Colorado law takes effect July 1.


The Washington State Legislative Board had some good news to report this week about its effort to get two-person crew legislation passed in the state.
“For six consecutive years, we have doggedly pursued passage of this critical public safety bill. Today, for the first time we advanced train crew size legislation to the floor of the full House for a vote,” Washington State Legislative Director Herb Krohn reported. “House Speaker Frank Chopp personally presided over the chamber for this historic vote.”

The bill, H.B. 1841, passed, 72-24 (with two excused absent members), on March 13, marking the first time the Washington House of Representatives has OK’d final passage of train crew size legislation, Krohn said.

The passage marks the halfway point of efforts to get the legislation passed in Washington state. It next needs passage in the state’s Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.

“This year, the carriers have waged the most aggressive campaign ever against all of our rail safety bills,” Krohn said. “We can expect they will turn the heat up even higher and expend even greater resources in opposition as the bill is considered by the state Senate.

“It will continue to require dogged persistence along with considerable efforts on our part to overcome the organized business coalition the railroad carriers have strung together in their quest to block us from moving crewing legislation across the finish line into state law.”

To get aboard the Washington State Legislative Board’s efforts to get this legislation passed, visit the board’s website, or link to them on Facebook.