Seeking Alpha

Two-person crews on trains carrying crude to be required in U.S.

  • The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration, sparked by last year's oil train derailment that ignited a fireball and killed 47 people in Canada, says it intends to require at least two crew members for rail shipments of crude oil, a proposal opposed by the railroads.
  • The Transportation Department already has ordered energy companies using rail to ship oil to test the chemical composition of all crude before loading it on tank cars, and is studying whether rail cars carrying crude need to be made sturdier to lower the risk of an explosion.
  • Railroads potentially affected: CSX, UNP, NSC, GWR, BNSF (BRK.A, BRK.B).
Comments (23)
  • JD in NJ
    , contributor
    Comments (798) | Send Message


    Someone there has a bit of a twisted sense of humor, eh?
    9 Apr, 08:38 PM Reply Like
  • jkoates
    , contributor
    Comments (7) | Send Message
    There are far more toxic chemicals being hauled every day. Better to restrict construction within an unsafe distance of tracks.
    9 Apr, 08:57 PM Reply Like
  • jeepnsam
    , contributor
    Comments (49) | Send Message
    soooooooo...if one crew member cannot prevent a derail and fire...what makes the Feds think two crew members will change anything???
    9 Apr, 09:20 PM Reply Like
  • deville42
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    The Conductor will tie handbrakes on a sufficient count of cars, while the Engineer sets, releases, and tests the brake set.
    9 Apr, 10:37 PM Reply Like
  • Philip Marlowe
    , contributor
    Comments (917) | Send Message
    If you have two people you can arrange it so it is guaranteed that at least one person will always be at the locomotives controls at all times. It seems that one of the worst accidents happened when the engineer left the train.
    10 Apr, 03:11 AM Reply Like
  • randiego2
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    I'm a little surprised that they only have one guy per train as it is! Cutting corners perhaps - never a good idea with dangerous cargo? Wouldn't you want at least one guy at each end?


    Regulations aren't generally applied for no reason. They are there because something pretty bad happened, and it is in the common good to prevent a re-occurrence of the bad thing. Human nature is to forget the recent past and repeat mistakes (nevermind the longer past).
    10 Apr, 04:05 AM Reply Like
  • randiego2
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    Never ask a question you don't know the answer to.
    10 Apr, 07:19 AM Reply Like
  • soccerref
    , contributor
    Comments (25) | Send Message
    Law: Engineer has to be at controls at all times. Otherwise the safety features (deadman, etc.) apply the brakes and stop the train.
    10 Apr, 09:35 AM Reply Like
  • jkoates
    , contributor
    Comments (7) | Send Message
    EVER? That is when you get stuck with someone TOTALLY screwed up. Like you know who!
    10 Apr, 09:57 AM Reply Like
  • sethmcs
    , contributor
    Comments (3062) | Send Message
    Given the opportunity the feds will run a railroad into the ground. Remember Penn Central?
    9 Apr, 09:53 PM Reply Like
  • dancing duke
    , contributor
    Comments (42) | Send Message
    you could add CN to that before the feds privatized it. Look at Canadian National today
    10 Apr, 10:43 AM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (12675) | Send Message
    Hey, maybe, they need a "fireman," too, like the old days.
    9 Apr, 09:55 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1493) | Send Message
    Having two people in the cab isn't exactly going to break a railroad.
    9 Apr, 10:22 PM Reply Like
  • LMinAppleton
    , contributor
    Comments (33) | Send Message
    Hendershott: Three probably wouldn't either, so why not make it three? From three, four would only increase personnel costs on the trains by 33% (and would probably represent a tiny fraction of their total expenses when you consider marketing, administration, fuel, etc.) so why not make it four? Would you care to venture a guess as to how many people in the cab would break a railroad?


    The article states that the Feds are going to require two people on trains transporting crude oil because of last year's derailment in Canada. Any idea how a second person in the cab is going to prevent the train from coming off the rails? Perhaps the added weight will keep it on the rails! Following the Feds logic (a term I use very loosely here) then every truck should have two drivers in order to prevent accidents.


    You see, this is another example of the Feds regulating just for the sake of regulating--there is no intelligent reasoning behind it. The point is not that the railroad can afford it; the point is that the Feds are creating useless regulation--and the cost of all regulation ultimately gets passed on to us, the consumers.
    9 Apr, 11:38 PM Reply Like
  • Pazr
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
    Hendershott, why are you so sure they both will be in the cab. I'm sure OSHA will require them to have their own personal fire extinguisher. Knowing the Fed Gov, they will regulate so the Caboose will make a come-back and each employee will have their own space. It's called "equality". Besides, it's in the Fed Gov's interest to place more restrictions and expenses on a business. It's their way of creating jobs, AND when prices of goods shipped by rail become more expensive as a result of these costs being passed on to all of us (consumers) ; we will have to cut down on these expenditures, the businesses shipping these goods by rail will have to lay-off employees, they'll have to go on unemployment and then eventually on welfare ( becoming SLAVES of the state ) and DEPENDENT on the Government. Don't you see, it's just such an advantage to the Fed Gov and Obama's team. These dependees will surely vote for and support the team.
    10 Apr, 01:15 AM Reply Like
  • seterk
    , contributor
    Comments (197) | Send Message
    Apparently, everything in the universe is ultimately Obama's fault.
    10 Apr, 04:42 AM Reply Like
  • Pazr
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
    Seterk, No, that's not true. It might be Bush's fault (according to Obama), but President Obama and his administration does have a way of fouling things up. Personally, I would place the blame on all of us who were hoodwinked into accepting his CHANGE without questioning what that change would entail. Particularly, I would place the blame on the remainder of us who voted him and his team in for a second round of his non-sense. Especially those of us who died before the 2012 election and managed to pull the lever in the booth anyway.
    10 Apr, 09:45 AM Reply Like
  • randiego2
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message
    Democracy - very inconvenient for some.
    10 Apr, 01:10 PM Reply Like
  • Billy K
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
    Hey what if the Brkman drops dead? What if Engineer drops dead? Lot of what if's. I think as long as trains that are run through here it's gonna take a long time to stop and then get going again. Time is money so lets not sit still.......One man drops off as quickly as possible and 2nd Brkman then communicates with ground man and get the necessary tools or whatever to fix it. THen get moving again with less delay...


    10 Apr, 01:31 AM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (21) | Send Message
    Your kidding right? The owners financial interest supersedes the right to life and property of those adjacent to the RR ROW ?
    10 Apr, 10:38 AM Reply Like
  • omarbradley
    , contributor
    Comments (966) | Send Message
    i actually think the NTSB should order a return of the caboose as well...since that existed to hold the rail cars in place precisely due to the possibility of such an accident.


    I also think requiring the trucking industry to have two employees in any Class A or B vehicle at all times is necessary as well. the Psychological profession has beyond all doubt showing having two sets of eyes is vastly safer than having a radio or "loner driver" in charge of any commercial vehicle. let alone a cell phone, blue tooth, etc.


    Of course this is already well established in fact by industry and governmental parties concerned so it's hard not to imagine the purpose of the current reality is to create needless problems.


    this is how we want our children transported in school buses no less? it really is truly shocking and appalling...especially given the totally non-existent recovery in the labor market since the 2008 collapse of Wall Street.
    10 Apr, 11:59 AM Reply Like
  • stefaith2
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
    Having read all the comments, I notice that no-one seems to be aware of what caused the accident in Canada. The train was left parked on a siding by the driver who then set the hand brakes on a few of the cars, fewer than the regulations called for. The siding was on a slope, and subsequently started to move. There was no-one on the train at that time.


    Obviously having two engineers instead of one would have made no difference in this case. Making regulations more stringent has no effect if regulations are ignored, which is what happened in this case.
    12 Apr, 01:44 PM Reply Like
  • Billy K
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
    You're correct. When directions are followed to the "T" even then things happen that shouldn't happen. I wasn't aware of all particulars of the accident. Perhaps there are more missing links.....Should I therefore not comment? I say "NO!" I can't comment on that because I don't know. Then again perhaps air leaks in system failed when or if the Locomotives ran out of fuel... Just examples....Maybe somebody loosened the hand-brakes....Lot of people know lot things about Railroading...Flight #370 is another example...And so on...You made us all think and that in itself is Positive. THanks
    13 Apr, 10:50 PM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Tools
Find the right ETFs for your portfolio:
Seeking Alpha's new ETF Hub
ETF Investment Guide:
Table of Contents | One Page Summary
Read about different ETF Asset Classes:
ETF Selector

Next headline on your portfolio: