Freight Train

SPRINGFIELD – A proposal passed by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) increasing rail safety in Illinois was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Pritzker.

Link’s new law requires freight trains in Illinois to be operated by a crew of at least two people – a move that comes after recent news that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is abandoning its efforts for minimum train crew staffing levels.

“With federal bureaucrats failing to act to protect public safety, it is clear states must act on their own,” Link said. “This is simply a matter of protecting the general public. Two-person crews can react more efficiently to mechanical failures or equipment malfunctions and can potentially save lives in a serious situation.”

Link’s new law – which passed under Senate Bill 24 – requires freight trains to be operated by a crew of at least two individuals. Illinois joins Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, California and Arizona in enacting some form of train crew requirement.

“With the FRA abdicating its safety oversight duties and choosing to protect railroad profits over public safety, it's now more important than ever for states to take over that role to protect its citizens from corporate greed,” said Bob Guy, SMART TD Legislative Director for Illinois. “At a time when freight trains are increasingly longer and carrying the most hazardous of chemicals through our communities, common sense tells us that response time to critical incidents involving trains is surely enhanced when a safe and adequate train crew size of at least two individuals are deployed, which is already the industry norm today and should be well into the future."

Senate Bill 24 was signed by the governor on Friday and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.