Feds to propose mandatory 2-man crews on oil trains

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will propose a new rule requiring all trains carrying oil to be crewed by at least two people, the agency announced Wednesday.

The FRA also said it planned to propose a rule on train securement and that the agency wanted a rulemaking on the movement of hazardous materials in general.

“We believe that safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple person crew—safety dictates that you never allow a single point of failure,” FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said in a statement.

According to the FRA, it is already a standard industry practice to have two-person crews for many trains, but it is not legally required. The proposed rule will amend this.

The proposed regulations are inspired by last July’s train derailment in La-Megantic, Canada. A parked train crewed by only one engineer (who was not aboard) came loose, derailed and exploded, killing 47 people. 

The derailed train carried oil originating from the Bakken formation in North Dakota. Since the accident, additional oil train derailments have occurred near Casselton, North Dakota and New Augusta, Mississippi.