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BLET backs two-person crew, rail safety provisions of INVEST Act

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 8 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is endorsing the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (INVEST Act), which is expected to be marked-up in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 9. The bill would authorize $547 billion in spending over five years on surface transportation, would mandate two-person crews on freight trains, and would triple funding for Amtrak.

The INVEST Act also would address a number of railroad safety concerns that have been at the forefront of Rail Labor’s agenda for the past several years. The Act would require that railroads report all PTC system failures to the FRA, provide for mandatory train crew changes at the U.S.-Mexican border, and mandate fatigue management improvements — all increasingly important issues in the era of so-called “Precision Scheduled Railroading” (PSR). The INVEST Act also requires a study on the safety impact of long trains, including consideration of safety factors such as loss of communication and in-train forces that can lead to increased risk of derailments.

The Act would establish a minimum crew size for freight operations, mandating that, “No freight train may be operated unless such train has a 2-person crew of at least one appropriately qualified and certified conductor and one appropriately qualified and certified locomotive engineer.”

According to published reports, the plan would provide $95 billion in funding for railroads and would triple funding for Amtrak to $32 billion. The bill would require Amtrak to set aside at least 2.5% of all annual government funding “to enhance the passenger experience on long-distance routes.”

The bill was introduced on June 4, 2021, by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ).

“As I have said many times before, elections have consequences, and the introduction of this pro-rail worker legislation is the result of our past political efforts as well as the election outcome from November 2020,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “While many of our elected officials remain divided on some of the ideological issues contained in this bill, we strongly support the two-person crew provision as well as the additional pro-rail worker and pro-rail safety provisions in this proposed legislation, which would go a long way toward improving the lives and safety of our members.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
bentley@ble-t.org

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