Why Is It Taking So Long to Add Second Engineer?

Airplanes have co-pilots. Some freight companies require two drivers in their large trucks. Even cruise lines have more than one person who can take over to steer. Yet, America’s trains only have one engineer in the cabin safeguarding passengers and handling around 150,000 pounds of weight at high speeds.

Early this morning, Tuesday, June 9, The Federal Railroad Administration revealed its recommendations for preventing accidents like the one that occurred in Philadelphia four weeks ago. Although a second engineer is part of the recommendations, including more speed signs before curves and better automatic train controls, many wonder why a second person wasn’t put in the cabs of all Amtrak and other commuter trains immediately after the accident.

Union representative Crystal Hunt, along with everyone who has common sense, have been demanding a second engineer for years. The past four weeks, pleas for a second engineer have increased and yet the Federal Railroad Administration has only now reached the point of creating a 10-page document that includes this one recommendation as many that may or may not become mandatory.

As many people have pointed out, a second engineer can stop an accident from happening if the first engineer passes out from dehydration, a heart attack or a stroke. A second engineer can watch for curves while the primary engineer handles the train. Additionally, a second engineer can serve as a witness when an accident takes place.