Rep. Sheehy's Train Safety Legislation Receives First Hearing In Ohio House
Bill to require 2-person crews aims to help prevent fatal accidents
March 29, 2017
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State Reps. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today provided sponsor testimony before the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee for House Bill 107 (HB 107), legislation to require freight train operating crews to consist of at least two individuals. 

“Although modern technology has allowed for smaller trains crews, reducing the crew to a sole person is a public safety risk. No technology safeguards can protect against operator fatigue,” said Sheehy, who worked in the railroad industry for over 40 years prior to his election as state representative. “Requiring two individuals on every freight train in Ohio will help cut down on potentially fatal accidents and keep our communities safe.”   

Similar legislation was introduced in the 131st General Assembly, just months after a tragic train accident near Philadelphia killed eight and injured more than 200 people. Only one operator was on board when the train, traveling 102 mph in a 50 mph zone, derailed after barreling into a curve in the tracks. 

“This legislation will improve safety, not just for railroad workers but for the railroad companies and surrounding communities that these trains travel through,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Unfortunately, this accident, along with many others, was avoidable. When two people are on a crew of a train, the potential for exhaustion and fatigue is significantly decreased.” 

In 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed a federal rule that would require two crew members to be staffed for all railroad operations, unless the train did not pose a significant safety risk. 

Both Ohio SMART – Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Transportation Union - Transportation Division officials and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers support the legislation.

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