A senior FRA official speaking on background tells Trains News Wire that the Department of Transportation had forwarded the final proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for approval back in December. It was a routine step in the regulatory process. The Obama administration’s budget office returned the rule to transportation department so Trump administration officials could consider it.
FRA officials are now waiting for a meeting with Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao to consider the crew rule among others, the official says. Chao took office on Jan. 31.
The rule calls for two crew members in a locomotive, unless a railroad asks for a waiver for single-person operation. Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor, certain commuter lines, and short lines now operate with one crew member in the cab. Class I and short line railroads worked against the proposal, arguing that crew size was an issue to be negotiated with labor unions.
Just after the new Congress convened, U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, introduced a bill calling for two-person crews. At the same time, a handful of states are considering their own crew size legislation.