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TTD Applauds Ninth Circuit Court Decision that Prioritizes Freight Rail Safety

Washington, DC — Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement applauding a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Transp. Div. Of Int’l Ass’n-SMART v. FRA that overturns actions by the Trump administration to preempt states from setting their own laws and regulations mandating freight train crew size:

“With this decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit put common sense and safety ahead of profits and political favoritism. By vacating the Trump Federal Railroad administration’s (FRA) action to preempt all state laws and regulations concerning freight train crew size, it overturned one of the most indefensible decisions by the previous FRA.

“TTD has been unequivocal in our position that a qualified engineer and conductor are required for the safe operations of most freight trains, a stance underscored by the daily experiences of thousands of railroad workers across the nation. However, in 2019 the FRA not only withdrew a rule that would have prevented railroads from unsafely reducing crews, but it invalidated crew size laws and regulations in states which had already enacted them. The declaration was devastating for rail employees, and undermined the rights of states to implement safety rules within their own borders.

“The Ninth Circuit rightfully cast aside FRA’s order as arbitrary and capricious, and castigated the administration for its ill-conceived actions and its unsupported logic in its assault on rail safety. We are thankful that state safety laws can go back into effect, but today’s decision is only a first step. Congress and the FRA must act to deploy a strong nation-wide crew size mandate that will keep railroaders and the communities they travel through safe. We look forward to working with them in this effort.”