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Workers raise alarm about proposed one-man train crews

A proposal by a major railway company to start using one-man train crews is raising safety concerns among workers.

Proposal goes against proposed federal regulation and policy of national union

A proposal tentatively agreed to between a major railway company and a railway workers’ union is causing alarm among industry workers and regulators, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. The railway company is planning on employing one-man crews across much of its system, including on trains running through Minnesota. The proposal runs counter to the position of the national railway workers’ union and may also violate future federal regulations. Critics of the proposal say it puts workers at increased risk of injury and poses a threat to public safety.

One-man crews

The railway company has called for the one-person crews to be employed on trains so long as additional monitoring systems are being used. The system would utilize a ‘master conductor’ who would not actually be on the trains and would use monitoring technology to direct the on-board worker. The company reached a tentative agreement with a major railway union to begin using the one-man crews on 60 percent of its network.

According to the railway, the proposal would make its railway system safer. The company also says that the one-man crews would not operate on trains carrying hazardous materials.

Safety concerns

Not everyone, however, agrees that one-man crews are safer than the standard two-man approach. The national railroad workers union has a longstanding policy of supporting two-man crews on trains. Additionally, the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) has already announced that it plans on issuing new rules in support of minimum crew sizes in the wake of a number of high-profile train derailments.

The FRA says that the proposal by the railway company creates a “single point of failure” that seriously jeopardizes the safety of the public and railway workers. The issue is particularly important for Minnesota, given that the railway company operates the most congested line through the state, with most of its trains passing through highly populated areas, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Railway injuries

Because of their large size, trains pose a significant threat to the people who work on them. Injuries suffered by railway workers can be long lasting, debilitating, and in many cases they make take years to become apparent.

Any worker who has been injured while working for a railroad company needs the representation provided by an experienced railway injury law firm. An attorney who specializes in railway injuries can provide the expertise that other law firms cannot when pursuing compensation workers deserve for any injuries they have sustained in the course of their duties.