Nebraska 43rd District Senator Al Davis says the tragedy of last week’s train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey is a horrible example of what can happen and the damage that can be caused from a public safety standpoint with railroads.
Senator Davis previously introduced legislation in the Nebraska Legislature, LB 192 in 2015, requiring that trains operate with at least two-person crews as he recognized how important this was for public safety. Davis also worked with the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee to adopt a Resolution, LR 338 in 2015, attempting to get the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt a rule requiring a train crew of at least two individuals.
Davis believes that two-person crews are important for not only the safety of the rail-workers themselves, but just as importantly, they help protect the safety of all Nebraskans in the midst of the vital transportation of goods and people that railroads are able to provide.
“This truly is a trying time for all those involved in the tragedy in New Jersey,” said Davis, “but it does serve as a glimpse into why it is vital that we examine this issue carefully and make sure we have the right policy options in place to keep Nebraskans safe.”
Going further, in looking at the specifics as to why two-person crews are important for rail safety and as to why Davis has supported legislation and a resolution requiring two-person crews, Davis said the following, “technological developments that allow trains to be partially controlled remotely are prompting railroad companies to develop plans to reduce crews to one person. This would create a public safety issue, because many Nebraska communities have only a single railroad crossing. In the case of a stopped train, he said, emergency responders would be forced to wait for a second crew member to arrive to clear the crossing.”
“Derailments happen every day in this country,” Davis said. “I don’t think Nebraska wants to take that kind of risk.”
Davis’ legislative efforts have been supported by multiple groups, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, employees of Burlington Northern Santé Fe Railway, the Nebraska State Voluntary Firefighters Association, the Nebraska Fire Chiefs Association, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division, the Nebraska State AFL/CIO, and the Nebraska Association of County Officials, and employees of Union Pacific Railroad. All of these groups were touting various aspects of the increased safety that two-person crews provide.
Senator Al Davis currently lives in Hyannis and has served as the State Senator for District 43 in the Nebraska Legislature since his election in 2012. He currently serves on the Revenue, Transportation & Telecommunications, and Retirement Committee as well as several special committees.
He is currently seeking reelection to the Nebraska Legislature and will be on the ballot in the 2016 election.