State Reps. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) provided sponsor testimony this week before the House Commerce and Labor Committee for House Bill 371 (HB 371), legislation to require freight train operating crews to consist of at least two people.
“Having spent 43 years in the railroad industry, I can affirm the absolute necessity of requiring a two-person crew on all freight trains that run through Ohio,” said Sheehy “Public safety demands it.”
The introduction of HB 371 comes just months after a train-related incident near Philadelphia that took the lives of eight people and injured 200 others. The train was traveling at 102 miles per hour in a 50 miles per hour zone and derailed after barreling into a curve. Only one engineer was on board.
“The focus of this legislation can be summed up in one word: safety,” said Lepore-Hagan. “This legislation will improve the safety not just of railroad workers, but also the surrounding communities through which these trains travel.”
Both Ohio SMART – Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Transportation Union - Transportation Division officials and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers have expressed support for House Bill 371. The legislation now awaits its second committee hearing in the House.