Victory in the Empire State: N.Y. two-person crew bill signed

December 13, 2023

Given a second chance to act, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has chosen to side with safety.

In late 2022, a bill requiring two-person crews on freight trains in the state reached her desk and she vetoed it.

But something changed this year — perhaps it was seeing legislatures and governors in both Ohio and Minnesota to the west take the steps to pass legislation or the catastrophic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that happened in February.

On Dec. 8, Hochul signed S.5775 into law, capping a superlative effort from SMART-TD’s New York State Legislative Board led by State Legislative Director Sam Nasca.

A mere three years ago, a bill establishing a minimum freight crew size did not even make it out of a state Senate committee. Now, New York is the third state this year to pass and have the governor sign 2PC legislation, bringing the total number of states to have implemented legislation or regulations regarding a minimum two-person crew to a dozen.

“Another state has come to the conclusion that a two-person crew is appropriate and necessary for safe railroad operations,” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “We thank all of the legislators, especially state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, who introduced the bill in his chamber, and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli for their leadership.”

“Congratulations to all on the TD New York State Legislative Board for pulling together and achieving another victory.”

The bill was introduced in March and establishes an escalating structure of fines for violations by Class I and II rail carriers that run freight trains without two on the crew in the state. It takes effect in January 2024.

A national regulation on crew size remains pending before the Federal Railroad Administration.