Memphis, TN – In a recent op-ed for the Commercial Appeal, Greater Memphis Chamber President and CEO Beverly Robertson argues against a proposed bill in Congress to regulate rail personnel. She emphasizes the vital role freight rail plays in Tennessee’s economy and how the legislation could subvert railroads in the future.

“Tennessee is one of the nation’s most vital freight rail hubs, with a geographical uniqueness of being home to both eastern and western railroads. This has made freight rail an indispensable part of our state’s economy.

However, some lawmakers in D.C. are threatening to stall this progress by proposing rules that could restrict the freight rail industry’s ability to innovate for the future.”

Robertson explains why a crew size requirement is unnecessary and could stifle innovation.

“One such bill in Congress would mandate railroads have at least two crew members in the locomotive cab of every freight train. While this legislation is dubbed the ‘Safe Freight Act,’ it would have no actual effect on rail safety. In fact, the U.S. Federal Rail Administration (FRA), which oversees rail safety, recently found there’s no evidence that two people in the locomotive cab is safer than one.

Government mandates on how industries utilize personnel fail to account for how innovation is transforming sectors such as transportation, with the proliferation of autonomous technologies that are making cars, trucks and trains safer than ever.”

Robertson concludes by reminding Tennessee policymakers that rail supports many other industries across the state—and that backward-looking regulations could undermine this service.

“As the automotive industry and others continue to grow here, railroads will continue to play a central role. It is critical that our members of Congress oppose shortsighted regulations that do nothing to increase rail safety and will only serve to disrupt the industry’s ability to power the state’s economy for the future.”

Read the Full Op-ed.