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(Source: Progressive Railroading 03/18/2020)

The Washington State Legislature has passed a bill that would establish a minimum crew size on certain trains, rail labor unions reported yesterday.

The bill, HB 1841-Establishing Minimum Crews on Certain Trains, passed out of the State House on March 10. The Senate signed off on the legislation on March 12, according to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), which supports the bill.

The legislation now awaits Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature.

“Even at this endpoint the railroad lobbyists continue to make attempts to stifle the progress of this much needed safety legislation,” said BLET’s Washington State Legislative Board Chair Shahraim Allen in a press release. “Despite this fact, we are taking counter measures to ensure once and for all that this bill makes it across the finish line in the behalf of our membership.”

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) opposes state and federal legislative attempts to establish minimum train crews. Such requirements would “freeze evolution of railroad operations that might affect crew size, removing the incentive for future innovation,” AAR officials said in a statement posted on the association’s website.

“There is no data showing two-person crews are safer than one-person crews,” they said.

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