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Safe Freight Act is good for all of us

• Jul 24, 2019 at 2:00 PM

NOTE: The following letter to the editor was submitted by Stuart Gardner of Bellevue.

The Ohio State Legislative Board needs the public's support to reach out to Ohio Republican Congressmen: David Joyce, Troy Balderson, Bill Johnson and Michael Turner to follow the example set by fellow Ohio Republican Congressman Steve Stivers in supporting and co-sponsoring H.R. 1748 — The Safe Freight Act.

H.R. 1748 is a common sense approach to railroad safety, that would not cost the Class 1 railroads in the United States any more money, simply because two-person freight train crews have been the norm since 1992.

H.R. 1748 — The Safe Freight Act Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

The Safe Freight Act would require that freight trains are operated by a crew of at least two individuals — a certified conductor and a certified engineer.

Why is this legislation necessary?

• This legislation is critical to ensuring the safety of our nation's railroads and the millions of Americans who live in the surrounding communities.

• While almost all freight trains are currently operated by two-person crews, some rogue operators have begun operating with a single crew member.

• On July 6, 2013, an unattended freight train carrying 72 tank cars of crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying the town. The train rolled away from its parked position because the single crew member could not properly secure it alone.

• Locomotive engineers and conductors are each responsible for a long list of unique duties, most of which must be carried out simultaneously.

• Two person-crews not only help prevent potential accidents or derailments, but also play a critical role in mitigating emergency situations when they do occur.

• Having two-person crews is one of the most effective ways to combat fatigue among operating employees — the most critical safety issue facing the rail industry today.

• Positive Train Control (PTC), while an important safety technology, cannot replace the vital role of a second crew member.

• No one would approve of a commercial airliner being operated by a single pilot, even though a plane can fly itself; a freight train, which cannot, should be treated no differently.

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