UTC adopts new rules for minimum railroad crew size

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Docket Number: TR-200536

UTC adopts new rules for minimum railroad crew size

LACEY, Wash. - The Utilities and Transportation Commission has approved new rules requiring a minimum of two crew members on most trains. The rules implement the railroad safety provisions established by House Bill 1841, passed in 2020.  

The Commission adopted the rules on Nov. 30. The new rules apply to freight and passenger trains, and trains carrying hazardous materials, subject to certain exceptions provided by law.  

The rules establish penalties of $1,000 to $100,000 per violation of the requirement for two-person crews. In the event of a serious injury or fatality, the commission may impose fines exceeding $100,000 per offense. 

The commission determined that adequate personnel is critical to ensuring railroad operation, passenger safety and security, and improves emergency response in the event of a hazardous materials incident.  

The commission received six comments from the public on this rulemaking, including railroads, railroad associations, and rail unions.  

The UTC regulates railroad safety, including approving new rail crossings and closing or altering existing crossings, investigating train accidents, inspecting railroad crossings, approving safety projects, and promoting rail safety education through Operation Lifesaver. In addition, the commission partners with the Federal Railroad Administration to perform inspections of track, hazardous materials, signal and train control, operating practices, and locomotive power and equipment.