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BLET Weekly News Recap, 4-12-24
Apr 12, 2024

The BLET exists to promote and protect the rights, interests, and safety of its members through solidarity, aggressive representation, and education.


April 12, 2024

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BLET keeps it in notch 8, continues to pursue rail safety reforms as railroads sue to block new safety rule

The Federal Railroad Administration’s two-person crew rule announced earlier this month — which requires railroads to “staff every train operation with a minimum of two crewmembers (including a locomotive engineer and an additional crewmember who will typically be a conductor)…” — is an important and long-awaited action by federal regulators. A copy of the final rule is available from the Federal Register.
However, beefing up federal regulation is just one battlefront in the ongoing fight to improve rail safety and maintain safe staffing levels. The BLET continues to pursue rail safety legislation on the state level and in the halls of Congress to protect the safety of all railroad workers and the general public and more action is needed.
Last week, U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a “Dear Colleague” letter said the Railway Safety Act is one of the handful of key items he wants to see addressed and scheduled for debate during this session.
On the state level, BLET State Legislative Board Chairmen are being encouraged to continue their pursuit of rail safety legislation. Eleven states have now passed two-person crew bills and many other rail safety reforms also have been moved at the statehouse level due to ongoing pressure from BLET and others in rail labor. These are hard-fought legislative battles that often face vetos from governors doing the railroads’ bidding.
Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin recently vetoed a two-person crew bill. This week, BLET First Vice President Mark Wallace spoke to NPR’s Virginia affiliate about the Youngkin veto and the importance of two-person crew legislation. Read or listen to the story here.

BLET National President Eddie Hall said the need to enshrine the two-person crew regulation into federal law is evident. Less than a week after the rule was announced, four railroads filed suit in federal appeals court to block its implementation. President Hall told the Associated Press the legal challenges were just another sign that the industry continues to "place profits over safety." Identical challenges were filed in different appellate courts on behalf of Union Pacific, BNSF, the Indiana Railroad, and the Florida East Coast Railway. "This move by the railroads was predictable," President Hall said. "The railroads and their trade association appeal every safety reform."

BLET petitions FRA to deny safety waiver for Parallel Systems test
The BLET has filed formal comments with the Federal Railroad Administration opposing a safety waiver that would allow the introduction of autonomous train technology in the United States. BLET Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna said the technology is “not ready for prime time” when he testified at a March 12 FRA hearing to consider the waiver. Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia have asked the FRA for the wholesale waiving of numerous federal safety regulations so they can begin testing autonomous, self-propelled battery-powered freight cars produced by a tech startup, Parallel Systems.
The BLET formal comments note concerns regarding the weight of the vehicles, the inability of the vehicles to detect and interpret information the way a certified locomotive engineer in the cab of the locomotive would, and the lack of specificity regarding training that would need to be provided to locomotive engineers operating the vehicles.
The BLET comments state in part: “While we are pleased that the petitioners have so far committed to utilizing certified locomotive engineers to operate the vehicles, the safety risks are simply too great at this time. Until the technology is better developed to create a similar level of safety — or preferably a higher level of safety — we have asked the FRA to deny the waiver petition.”
The comments are available at
Join us this summer for BLET regional meetings in Kansas City and Washington, D.C.
Registration is now open for the BLET’s Western Regional Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Eastern Regional Meeting in Washington, D.C. Please make your plans now to attend one or both meetings.
The Western Regional Meeting will take place the week of June 3 and guests will stay at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown, 200 West 12th St., Kansas City, MO, 65105, telephone: (816) 421-6800. Room rates are $199 per night (plus tax) and reservations must be made by May 8, 2024.
The Eastern Regional Meeting will be held the week of July 29 and guests will stay at the Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 393-1000. Room rates are $229 per night (plus tax) and reservations must be made by July 1, 2024.
Meeting registration and hotel reservations for both events can be made through BLET’s regional meeting website,
Get connected with the BLET
The BLET National Division is investing more time and resources into its various social media outlets. It is the best place to go to get the latest news. Click the link below to get connected!
In 2023, the BLET launched this Weekly News Recap, a quick-hitting list of important news that gets emailed to your inbox once a week. With over 18,000 subscribers, it has become an important communication tool for our Brotherhood. All past issues are available here.
The BLET’s private members-only Facebook group continues to grow. If you wish to read news and comment on stories in a protected setting, then you should join today. The page is for members only — no company officials allowed. Click here to join.
The BLET is also expanding its use of Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).
Click here to get connected!
Hello darkness, my old friend
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse moved across North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. As you can see in the photo of a Norfolk Southern locomotive (above) parked near Buffalo, New York, the sky darkened as if it were dusk. Buffalo, along with BLET’s headquarters in Independence, Ohio, were among the many U.S. cities in the path of totality. According to NASA, the next total solar eclipse will be on August 23, 2044.
Photos courtesy Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131

PH (216) 241-2630   |

If you are a member of the BLET, then please consider signing up for the Members’ Area of the BLET website:  


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen · 7061 East Pleasant Valley Road · Independence, OH 44131 · USA

BLE-T Division 622

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