RWU Campaigns

Stop Crew Fatigue

One of the most - if not the most - pressing safety concerns of train and engine crews in North America is the whole question of chronic train crew fatigue. It has been an issue for decades. It has been scientifically shown that being subject to fatigue is very similar upon the brain and body as being under the influence of alcohol. And while the rail carriers have zero tolerance for the latter, when it comes to the former, they are mute on the subject. In fact, they do not even acknowledge the existence of fatigue at all!

Those of us in the T&E craft - especially those on road freight pools and extra boards - know and understand the harsh reality - and the dangers - of chronic crew fatigue. It is unconscionable that the rail carriers sit idly by and do nothing to mitigate against fatigue. The unions are all too often complicit in this silence. It is high time we mount an all-out campaign to blow the whistle on fatigue. If the general population was aware of what we go through, the dangers that we present to ourselves and the communities we travel through, something would be done to put a stop to this insanity.

Check out the information below. We hope that every single railroader will be inspired to join the fight against crew fatigue!

Articles on Train Crew Fatigue

ARTICLE 12 — The Importance of Sleep: This website was brought to the attention of the webmasters. It is definitely some good, and important, information for railroaders, van crew drivers, and other railroad contractors.

ARTICLE 11: 12/7/16 -- NTSB: Fatigued Crew the Cause of Deadly UP Train Crash when two Union Pacific freight trains hit head-on in August 2014 in Hoxie, AR.

ARTICLE 10 - 10/1/16 -- RWU Steering Committee (alternate) Alan Thompson - with 44 years of railroad experience - weighs in on the question of crew fatigue in the Fall 2016 issue of RWS's newsletter The Highball: Crew Fatigue - The Elephant in the Room

ARTICLE 9- 10/18/16 -- CN employees speaking out against chronic workplace fatigue (Canada)

ARTICLE 8 - 4/1/16 -- Fatigue on the rails: a trainman’s nightmare (Canada)

ARTICLE 7 - 1/19/16 -- Canada: CP crew fatigue is 'imminent threat' (Canada)

ARTICLE 6 - 3/21/16 -- Rail Workers: Deadly Tired…but Still Working (U.S.)

ARTICLE 5 - 11/18/15 -- BNSF Engineer Walks Away from Career Over Safety Concerns (U.S.)

ARTICLE 4 - 10/30/15 -- Railroad Workers Say Long Shifts Unsafe (U.S.)

ARTICLE 3 - 12/3/14 -- Fighting Fatigue (U.S.)

ARTICLE 2 - 10/7/14 -- Rail companies fight new rules to prevent crew fatigue (Canada)

ARTICLE 1 - 4/14/14 -- Final FRA Report Finds Reduced Shift Start-time Variability Can Boost Safety (U.S.)

Analysis of the Relationship between Operator Effectiveness Measures and Economic Impacts of Rail Accidents

The above link is to a study conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), released 5/1/11 on the subject of operator failure and its relationship to economic damage caused by the resultant accident.

Fatigue Tool Kit

There has been lots of study and research done on the whole question of workplace fatigue. Check out the materials below to assist you in your fight against crew fatigue on the railroad.

Bud Hudsmith the Health & Safety Advisor for the UK union UNITE, as put together a presentation on Fatigue:

Looking for Trouble on Fatigue

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the United Kingdom has put together a very useful guide on workplace fatigue:

Fatigue: An introduction for union health and safety representatives

United Steelworkers Health Safety & Environment Conference

Here is a power point presentations that can be very informational when investigating the nature of fatigue in the railroad workplace. This was presented to the Steelworkers conference by the University of Iowa Labor Center September 13th, 2016.

Extended & Irregular Work Hours, Shift Work & Health & Safety: Problem and Solutions


Class I Railroad Engineer Faces This Fatigue Scenario - An Example

This simple exercise lays out a scenario - similar to one faced every day by engineers and trainmen on railroads across North America - where fatigue is a huge factor in rail safety. Rampant chronic train crew fatigue is a hallmark of the rail industry in both the U.S. and Canada.

Fatigue Power Point Presentation

The effect of Fatigue on Railroad Workers health & Safety

Railroad Health & Safety Conference


Sponsored by the BLET Iowa State Legislative Board 10/15/13

Presented by the University of Iowa Labor Center

This training examines the causes of fatigue and ways to effectively deal with it and ultimately eradicate it from the workplace, individually and institutionally.

Railroad Workers United has established a method of tracking the horrendous lineups we have to live with. We need to all join in the effort to produce data that will show proof of the lack of safety, and the dangerous work environment we are faced with by not having proper rest or time with family and friends.

With your help we can start chipping away at the carriers whom ignore our safety concerns, but we need you to please fill out this form as consistent as possible. Any supporting documentation can be sent to us attached to form if available. Thank you for taking the time to fill this form.

Fatigue Monitoring Form Here

A resource originally created by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in 2012 and updated by Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center in 2015. Owned and funded by the Federal Railroad Administration, an operating mode of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  This guide - while a helpful resource to assist rails in getting better sleep - is no substitute for better train line-ups, more scheduled jobs, call windows, advance call times, limits on hours-of-work, more time off the job between calls, an end to harsh attendance policies, and all the rest.

Now is the Time to Address Rail Worker Fatigue

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen Dennis Pierce takes the opportunity to weigh in on the question of chronic crew fatigue in a commentary in the October 2016 issue of the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News, entitled Now is the Time to Address Rail Worker fatigue.