September 12, 2014

CHICAGO (Sept. 9)—Gov. Pat Quinn has told SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy that he fully supports the Illinois General Assembly’s endorsement of federal legislation mandating two crew members aboard all freight trains.

The governor’s pledge of support came in response to Guy’s written appeal of August 6, in which he reminded Quinn of the disastrous runaway crude-oil train that derailed in Lac-Megantic, Que., on July 6, 2013, destroying half the town of 6,000 and killing 47 people. The accident has since been attributed to inadequate securement of the 82-car train by its lone crew member at the end of his 12-hour workday.

“As someone who spent 14 years as a freight train conductor, I can personally attest to the fact that it takes two crew members to properly secure a train that is left unattended,” Guy wrote Quinn, noting that House Resolution 3040, the Safe Freight Act, has been introduced in Congress to mandate 2-person crews and that Senate Joint Resolution 50 already has passed the Illinois General Assembly as an endorsement of the federal legislation.

“The intent and support of SJR50 by the Illinois General Assembly sends a strong message to our congressional delegation in regards to freight operations,” Guy told Quinn, noting that the use of 2-person crews “hasn’t prevented or hindered rail carriers from making record profits over recent years.

“The simple fact is that if HR 3040 were passed today, it wouldn’t affect rail operations in the U.S. at all or cost most carriers a single dime because they already operate this way today,” Guy wrote.

Quinn responded that he considered the Safe Freight Act “a common sense measure that will ensure freight trains have the adequate crew for safe operation.

“As such, I urge the Illinois Congressional delegation and the US Congress to support this safety initiative,” he said. The governor called the freight and passenger rail system in Illinois “a vital component of our state and national economy” and added: “I stand continually committed to rail safety for all our communities and citizens and the 18,000 Illinois freight rail employees.”