Governor signs Wolk rail safety bill into law
Bill requires minimum two–person train crewsSeptember 9, 2015
SACRAMENTO—Late yesterday Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to protect communities along rail lines and railroad workers by requiring trains and light engines carrying freight within California to be operated with an adequate crew size.
“Today’s freight trains carry extremely dangerous materials, including Bakken crude oil, ethanol, anhydrous ammonia, liquefied petroleum gas, and acids that may pose significant health and safety risks to communities and our environment in the case of an accident,” said Wolk. “With more than 5,000 miles of railroad track that crisscrosses the state through wilderness and urban areas, the potential for derailment or other accidents containing these materials is an ever present danger. This new law will provide greater protection to communities located along rail lines in California, and to railroad workers.”
Senate Bill 730 prohibits a freight train or light engine in California from being operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least two individuals. It also authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to assess civil penalties, at its discretion, against anyone who willfully violates this prohibition.
The CPUC supports SB 730, stating that requiring two-person crews is a straightforward way of ensuring two qualified crew members continue to operate freight trains in California. According to the CPUC, of all the industries subject to their oversight – energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation—rail accidents result in the greatest number of fatalities each year.
“This new law will help keep us at the forefront of rail safety,” said Paul King, Deputy Director of the Office of Rail Safety for the CPUC. “This law will ensure that freight trains continue to have the safety redundancy that a second person provides. Such redundancy is a fundamental safety principle that is evidenced in certain industries, such as using two pilots in an airplane cockpit, or requiring back-up cooling systems for nuclear reactors.”
The bill is also supported by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO; California Teamsters Public Affairs Council; and United Transportation Union.
State Senator Lois Wolk – 3rd District
Phone: (916) 651-4003