Wisconsin two-person crew bill awaiting governor's OK

Remote controls will be kept out of Wisconsin

A two-person crew bill was approved by the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate on March 19, and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Tommy Thompson.

Language of the bill, crafted primarily by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, will keep remote control technology out of Wisconsin and will keep two persons on the lead control locomotive.

"This important public and rail safety legislation could not have been achieved without the support of the BLE Divisions in Wisconsin," said BLE State Legislative Board Chairman Keith Luebke. "To those Brothers that testified, and others who called the legislative hotline, thank you. At no time have I been more proud of this Brotherhood, and the membership, for recognizing the inherent safety value of two people in the control cab."

The new legislation became necessary when management of Wisconsin Central found a loophole in the old two-person crew law. WC has a specific run in which two locomotives are used - one at the head end and one at the rear end of the train. While WC used a two-man crew for this run, it placed one engineer in each locomotive. This violated the intent of the law but not the letter of the law. The new legislation will close that loophole.

The pertinent portion of the bill, AB827, reads as follows:

"192.25 (2) No person operating or controlling any railroad, as defined in s. 85.01 (5), may allow the operation of any railroad train or locomotive in this state unless the railroad train or locomotive has a crew of at least 2 members. One of the individuals shall be a certified railroad locomotive engineer. The other individual shall be either a certified railroad locomotive engineer or a qualified trainman. A certified railroad locomotive engineer shall be present in the cab and shall operate the lead control locomotive at all times that the railroad train or locomotive is in motion. The other crew member shall be present in the cab of the lead control locomotive at all times that the railroad train or locomotive is in motion, but may dismount the railroad train or locomotive when necessary to perform switching activities and other duties in the course of his or her job."

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