(March 4) – Rep. Daneya Esgar’s bill to increase safety by requiring at least two crew members on board any moving train passed the House on a party-line vote this morning. Every single Republican member of the House voted against HB16-1136, which maintains a safety standard designed to ensure the safe passage of freight trains through Colorado’s difficult terrain and urban areas.
“This bill is about the safety of our railway system and our communities,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “It’s important that when hazardous materials travel through our neighborhoods that public safety is our number one priority. This bill maintains the standard that a two-person crew is the safest way for a freight train to travel.”
Currently, the standard is a two-person crew, but nationally, railroad companies are moving toward a one-person crew system. During the bill’s hearing in the Transportation & Energy Committee, several conductors and engineers testified about the importance of having a second crew member on board, especially in cases of unforeseen accidents or debris on the tracks. Because the engineer of a train is required to stay in the cab, the conductor is the only crew member free to monitor other parts of the train and move from the cab in the case of an incident.
The 34-31 party-line vote sends the bill to the Senate.