A pair of Cleveland-area lawmakers have weighed in on the debate over single-person freight train crews.
Democrat Sens. Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights and Michael Skindell of Lakewood have sided with federal regulators and labor unions proposing Senate Bill 74 this week.
The measure simply requires the crews of freight trains operating in the Buckeye State to consist of at least two individuals.
Specifically, Sec. 4999.09 of the Ohio Revised Code would stipulate that “a train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight shall have a crew that consists of at least two individuals.”
No superintendent, trainmaster, or other railroad employee shall order or otherwise require a train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight to be operated unless it has a crew that consists of at least two individuals, the measure continued.
The legislation would not apply to hostler service or utility employees.
Violations of the measure would fall under the purview of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which may assess a civil penalty against a person who purposely has violated the law.
HB 74 prescribes penalty assessment, as follows:
- If, within three years of the violation, the commission has not previously assessed a civil penalty against the person under this section, in an amount not less than $250, but not more than $1,000;
- If, within three years of the violation, the commission has previously assessed one civil penalty against the person under this section, in an amount not less than $1,000, but not more than $5,000; and
- If, within three years of the violation, the commission has previously assessed two or more civil penalties against the person under this section, in an amount not less than $5,000, but not more than $10,000.
The bill proposes the attorney general, upon the request of the public utilities commission, shall bring a civil action to collect the penalties described above.
All penalties collected shall be deposited into the state treasury to the credit of the public utilities fund created in section 4905.10 of the Revised Code, HB 74 concluded.
Regulators and unions argue the two-man crews operate more safely, while opponents, including railroad operators, say there is no evidence to support the safety argument and that the requirement will stifle innovation.
An email to each of the lawmakers was not responded to by press deadline.
HB 74 has garnered support from six fellow senators.