Bacon: Protecting Hoosier railways

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Friday, February 24, 2017 8:05 am

A long-debated topic at both state and federal levels that often flies under the radar is how many crew members should be required to operate a train. I authored a piece of legislation that would establish a minimum crew size of two to operate freight trains in Indiana.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 50 train accidents reported in our state last year. Even if these are minor incidents, trains are one of the most powerful moving machines on earth. Depending on the speed of the train and how many cars it is pulling, it takes, on average, a mile or more to completely stop a freight train. Rarely, before accidents occur, does an engineer have enough forewarning or distance to bring the train to a complete halt.

Trains not only carry passengers, but many materials we use every day, including coal, grain, petroleum, compressed gases and chemicals. Some of these materials can be very dangerous to passengers and communities near railroad tracks if a train is derailed or in a wreck. On the federal level, if a train is carrying crude oil, only then is it required for two crew members to be on board.

When you think about it, we don’t allow commercial or cargo airlines to fly without a pilot and a co-pilot. This legislation would require a two-person crew consisting of a certified engineer and a certified conductor to be on a train before it can operate. Train operators work long hours, so this extra person would help protect against human error and fatigue that can lead to deadly accidents. In hilly parts of Indiana, where visibility is limited to the next curve or bend, this safety-minded legislation is important.

As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9833 or by email at I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district. Stay up-to-date with the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at


State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here.