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Robert Madison

I'm thinking you are misreading what's going on. First off, FRA does not have authority over most urban transit rail (i.e. the kind that would operate with one-person crews). That is generally under the FTA. Second, I'm not aware of any FRA-regulated passenger rail that doesn't already have a minimum of two crew (one engineer and at least one conductor). If anything, all this says is "don't even think about going down to one-man crews on those trains" which is probably a good idea anyway.


Robert A great deal of suburban commuter rail potentially shares tracks with freight and comes partly under FRA jurisdiction.

david vartanoff

Unfortunately FRA has authority over PATH which has every attribute of an urban mass transit subway but a long time ago had a physical connection to the national rail network. As they run trains with cars very much like CTA L equipment they might well otherwise be a candidate for OPTO.


I reread the note and realized I misinterpreted the point you were making. Nonetheless, it remains that most urban rail services do not fall under the FRA's jurisdiction, and commuter rail that does probably should have at least two crew members.

I think a better push would be to get certain systems (such as PATH) out of the FRA's regulatory reach, but when it comes to "big rail" systems, I think it would be wise to keep a minimum two-person crew.



Nearly every other developed country in the world runs commuter rail lines with one-person crews; commuter rail lines that operate far more efficiently and carry far more passengers than U.S. commuter rail. Why is it 'wise' to keep two-person crews when international best-practices call for one, which allows for lower operating costs, expanded service and higher ridership. The only explanation I can think of is that you consider Americans so uniquely inept at operating public transportation that we need twice the staffing as do other developed countries. I wouldn't disagree with you there.

Jim D.

Robert, the issue is not a simple requirement for a two-person train crew - many U.S. commuter rail trains have crews of three people or more when you count the conductor and assistant conductor(s). The issue is that the FRA is calling for two crew members to be stationed in the cab. This seems like a false solution. North American passenger trains have been operated safely for millions of miles with a single crew member in the cab, and accidents did occur in the past when multiple crew members were stationed on the locomotive.

And nbluth - ineptness is not the issue, organized labor and politics is. I suspect the number of employees required by any given agency correlates closely to the strength of the union that represents those employees. Some newer rail transit systems in the U.S. do operate with single-person crews and proof-of-payment fare systems.

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