Is Union Pacific Geting Ready for One-Person Crews?

The rail carriers have dropped their demands for single-person crews in this round of bargaining. But this summer, Union Pacific will begin testing new technology that could allow for train operation with only a single crew person, according to the Omaha World-Herald.


Right now union contracts require operation by a two-person crew: a conductor and an engineer. UP will test two new technologies that might reduce the amount of crew control necessary to run a train, Positive Train Control and LEADER.


This summer the UP will test this new technology on the run between North Platte and South Morrill in Nebraska. It will run a second test in the fall on the run between Spokane, Wash. and Eastport, Idaho.


The first technology, Positive Train Control, uses satellites to track trains, and it allows a remote operator to alter or stop a train’s travel. Under the second technology, LEADER (Locomotive Engineer Assist/Display Event Recorder) a computer will give the engineer instructions on how to run the train.


Thanks to the joint opposition of the UTU and the BLET, the National Carriers’ Conference Committee has dropped its insistence on single person crews in this round of bargaining. But even as it backs off on this round, the UP is laying its plans for eliminating two-person crews in the future.

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