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Transportation labor applauds calls for PSR study, encourages GAO to move quickly

Washington, DC – Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement applauding House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chair Donald Payne Jr (D-NJ) for calling on the GAO to study the impacts of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) on workers, safety, and shippers:

“For years, freight rail workers and their unions have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of PSR, a destructive business model dominating the freight rail industry. Today, we applaud Chairs DeFazio and Payne for taking seriously the concerns of our freight rail workforce and the customers they serve, and requesting that the GAO examine the alarming practices and conditions rail employees experience on a daily basis. TTD calls on the GAO to complete the requested study expeditiously and in consultation with the freight rail workforce.

“The ramifications of PSR are almost too many to count, and the implementation of this business model has made the freight rail industry nearly unrecognizable. The goal of PSR is to line the pockets of wealthy shareholders by prioritizing cost cutting and profits over safety and service. As a result, freight rail workers across all crafts and classes have been systematically laid off as employment at Class I railroads has been slashed by approximately 25% in just a few years. Those left are forced to take on more responsibilities, and report being pressured to meet unattainable standards and arbitrary deadlines while combating debilitating fatigue. Railroads are also evading federally mandated inspections, neglecting maintenance, and operating fewer but significantly longer trains – a move that impacts the safety not only of rail workers, but of the communities through which these trains travel.

“Freight rail workers and their unions fear that the combination of a less-than-bare bones workforce, endemic fatigue, dangerous equipment, longer trains, and an overall disregard for safety threatens both rail workers and the long-term viability of the industry. A study by the GAO elevating these concerns is a good first step in reining in this out-of-control business model and returning safety to the freight rail industry.”