The concerns of people living near railroads about crude oil trains derailing and exploding are not isolated ones. Recently the Chicago Daily Herald highlighted how conductors and engineers from across the country spent a day talking about the risks posed by oil trains and how to reduce them.
The article highlighted the concerns of crews about the low level of staffing on trains. The workers at the conference warned the practice of staffing trains with one crew member – something many railroads are reported to be pursuing to save money – could make matters worse if an oil train derails. They called for trains to have at least two crew members.
“If you’ve got a 10,000-ton train going 50 or 60 mph, it’s best controlled by two, not one (crew members),” locomotive engineer Ron Kaminkow said at the railroad safety conference on Sept. 19.
Barrington Mayor Karen Darch, a rail safety advocate, backed the calls for at least two crew members per train.
“If you’ve got a 10,000-ton train going 50 or 60 mph, it’s best controlled by two, not one (crew members),” locomotive engineer Ron Kaminkow said at a railroad safety conference Sept. 19.
“Say the engineer’s at the front of train that’s 10,000 feet long and something happens,” she said.
The Federal Railroad Administration has been backing the creation of a rule that would require two crew members per crude oil train and set minimum standards for other freight trains.
“We believe safety is enhanced with a second crew member, especially on critical routes,” FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said earlier this year. “There is no question in my mind that a second crew member has been critical to containing accidents and keeping people safe at accident sites.”
The Association of American Railroads has played down suggestions that railroads are seeking to cut the number of workers on trains.
The issue of derailments involving oil trains has been in the news in the wake of a number of catastrophes, including the Lac-Mégantic explosion in Canada that decimated a town in 2013 and killed almost 50 people.
Railroad workers say a downsizing trend has been going on since the 1980s and is gaining momentum, particularly given the pending institution of an automatic braking system.
“On a routine run on a summer day, you might be able to run a train (solo) across the country, across a subdivision without any problem,” Kaminkow stated at the conference sponsored by the Railroad Workers United group.
If you have been injured on the railroads, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 866-455-6657.