Biden locks in two-person train crews in wake of Ohio wreck

By Mike Lee | 04/02/2024 01:27 PM EDT

Incidents involving crude oil trains were a primary driver for the rule.

Pete Buttigieg.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg meeting with investigators at the site of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment last year. Brooke LaValley/Getty Images

The Federal Railroad Administration released a final regulation Tuesday that will require two-person crews on most long-haul freight trains.

The rulemaking has been one of the Department of Transportation’s top priorities and took on new urgency after the high-profile wreck last year in East Palestine, Ohio. It’s been part of the debate over rail safety for a decade, since the string of oil-train crashes in the 2010s.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose portrayed the new mandate as a simple step that will protect public safety in an era when freight trains are growing longer and more difficult to control. They announced the final regulation at a press conference flanked by firefighters and railroad union representatives.


“Common sense tells us that large freight trains, some of which can be over 3 miles long, should have at least two crew members on board — and now there’s a federal regulation in place to ensure trains are safely staffed,” Buttigieg said.