FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2022) – The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) published its latest report Monday, The Safety Impact of Technology and Crew Size: An analysis of accident data, incorporation of technology, and train crew staff levels on rail safety trends. This report will also be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration during the open comment period

Evaluating the potential benefit of a crew size mandate, the report finds that the proposed rule would address approximately one percent of train accidents nationwide – those arising from human error on mainline track by freight operations that require a personnel to correct for human error. 

This report examines trends relating to train accidents, identifies applicable classes of technology able to fulfill operational tasks, analyzes the effect of crew sizes on both accident prevention and accident mitigation, and concludes by providing eight recommendations. The report strongly emphasizes the importance of collective bargaining and the risk of disrupting the status quo – meaning swift departure from two-person crews or strict rules imposing them could have negative consequences.

Among the key recommendations are:

  • • Withdraw the current Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) unless or until better data is available 
  • • Institute a single-crew pilot program on Positive Train Control (PTC)-governed track to collect data and compare measurable data against two-member crews
  • • FRA should consider setting requirements for performance regulation rather than prescriptive regulation to help encourage innovation while achieving the aimed objective 
  • • FRA should consider alternative regulations like rules for ground-based conductors within certain limited geographic regions and hours of operation
  • • FRA should consider penalties for remaining issues to make accidents more costly and promote efficient investment by railroads 
  • • FRA should work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to promote the use of drones in the rail sector 

“The back and forth of this rule being proposed and withdrawn by the FRA is bad for public policy. Updated accident reporting forms and pilot programs need to be instituted to collect meaningful data before advancing new rules,” says author and Aii Director of Public Policy Benjamin Dierker. “We recommend that the agency withdraw the proposed rule, and consider a crew-size pilot program to settle the question in a controlled and robust data collection exercise. Ultimately, data demonstrates both that the FRA should not mandate train crew sizes and that rail companies should not quickly move to reduce crew sizes without a long ramp of proven technology integration.”

Read the report.





Benjamin Dierker is the Director of Public Policy at Aii, specializing in economic, administrative, and legal aspects of American energy, transportation, infrastructure, and innovation. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor of economics, the Bush School of Government and Public Service with a master of public administration, and the Scalia Law School at George Mason University with a juris doctor. 

For questions, interviews, or other media inquiries, please email Aii Media Coordinator, Andrew Jefferis,



About the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure

The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization dedicated to identifying our nation’s infrastructure needs, creating awareness of those needs, and finding solutions to critical public policy challenges. Aii strives to promote proven, innovative technology and higher safety standards in a non-partisan manner to achieve excellence nationwide. The Alliance is a think tank consisting of two non-profits: the National Infrastructure Safety Foundation (NISF) 501(c)(4) and the Public Institute for Facility Safety (PIFS) 501(c)(3). (