Gov’t regulators propose requiring at least 2-member train crews

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Investigators survey the site of a train derailment near the hamlet of Gainford, west of Edmonton October 20, 2013. The Canadian National Railway train carrying petroleum crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derailed west of Edmonton, Alberta, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said on October 19. Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters

Investigators survey the site of a train derailment near the hamlet of Gainford, west of Edmonton Oct. 20, 2013. Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Government regulators are proposing trains have a minimum of two crew members, a response to safety concerns that arose in 2013 after an unattended oil train caught fire and destroyed much of a town in Canada.

A Federal Railroad Administration notice published Monday says the agency is considering allowing railroads that operate with only one engineer to apply for an exception to the proposed two-person crew rule.

The proposal is opposed by the Association of American Railroads, which represents major freight railroads. Many railroads currently use two-person crews. But some industry officials have indicated they may switch to one engineer per train once technology designed to prevent accidents caused by human error becomes operational.

The technology, called positive train control, is expected to be employed between 2018 and 2020.

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