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Minimum crew size bill awaits vote in Washington State Senate

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 16 — The BLET Washington State Legislative Board, in conjunction with the SMART-TD Washington Legislative Board, has been lobbying the Washington State Legislature in support of legislation that would require two qualified crew members on trains operating in the state of Washington. Recently, this legislation (HB 1841) passed the State Assembly and will soon be voted on by the State Senate.

Public safety in regards to hazardous material trains is a driving force behind support of the legislation. Since 2009, Washington State has seen a dramatic increase in hazardous material trains (e.g., highly flammable crude oil and compressed gases). U.S. oil production is expected to increase 25 percent by 2025, and it is expected that much of this oil will be transported by trains. This legislation gives Washington State the capability to require more than two crew members for these types of trains, if it is determined by the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) that doing so would mitigate the risk to public safety when in route to the state’s oil refineries.

Ever-increasing train length is also a cause for concern. Class I railroads are regularly running freight trains in excess of 10,000 feet in the Western Washington corridor. Recently a train in excess of 12,000 feet traversed the Columbia Gorge; 15,000-to 18,000-foot long trains regularly run in some areas. Longer trains mean longer waits at crossings for the public as well as emergency responders seeking to reach locations of calls for help. Ensuring a minimum crew size would help ensure workers could separate trains at crossings in the event of an emergency.

Shahraim Allen, Chairman of the BLET’s Washington State Legislative Board, is asking all BLET Members, BLET Auxiliary members and families in the state of Washington to immediately contact their State Senator, inform them you are a constituent of theirs and politely ask them to vote “Yes” for HB1841 with the Kuderer Amendment. The Safe Train Crew Size (two-person crew) bill must be voted on the State Senate Floor before the deadline of Wednesday, April 17, 2019 by 5:00 p.m.

To contact your State Senator’s office via phone, please call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. If you wish to contact your State Senator by email, this information may be found online here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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