Rulemaking mirrors Senator Markey’s “Safe Freight Act”

Boston (April 2, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the following statement on the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) recent final rule to require at least two crewmembers on every freight train.

“When the Trump administration rolled back the two-person crew requirement for freight trains in 2019, it made a mockery of safety and helped create the conditions for several tragic rail incidents. I applaud the Biden administration for finalizing this life-saving final rule. We have decades of examples that show two-person crews make freight trains safer. When we invest in an experienced rail workforce, we also protect our environment and the safety of our communities from dangerous chemical spills, such as the East Palestine disaster. This rule, which mirrors my Safe Freight Act, and the provision I successfully fought to include in the Railway Safety Act, will require the profit-obsessed railroad barons to finally prioritize safety and security over dividends and danger.”

Senator Markey is a longtime advocate of rail safety. In 2019, following the Trump-era FRA’s rollback of a proposed rule that would have raised train safety standards, Senator Markey introduced the Safe Freight Act to mandate at least two-person crews on all freight trains in the United States, including at least one certified conductor and one certified engineer on board. Senator Markey successfully fought to include provisions from the Safe Freight Act into the Railway Safety Act, which passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in May 2023. 

Senator Markey also worked to secure major rail safety provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, such as language from his Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act, to provide $3 billion in federal funding for the Railroad Crossing Elimination Program to invest in needed improvements to dangerous highway-rail crossings, and language reflecting his previous efforts encouraging the FRA to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment before waiving or suspending track safety standards.