For Better Or Worse, Trains Are Now Being Operated Without A Conductor On Board

It's one of the industry's most controversial cost-saving strategies. For Better Or Worse, Trains Are Now Being Operated Without A Conductor On Board Giphy

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Autonomous vehicles have been cruising the streets of U.S. cities for a while now. Even though the results have been pretty positive, there are concerns about malfunctions that have caused traffic jams and even a handful of injuries.

Now imagine the potential pitfalls that could result from removing the human from a massive locomotive. That’s exactly what is happening across the country, and some say the results could be catastrophic.

One family’s story

As we’ve seen with train derailments and collisions, the rail industry is fraught with risks that often carry life-and-death consequences. Although they’re not always capable of averting disaster, conductors are capable of responding to potential threats in the most effective ways possible … that is, if they’re actually on the train.

It’s becoming more common, however, for remote operators who could be stationed half a mile or more away from the train to take over the jobs of on-board conductors and engineers.

One of these trains struck 10-year-old Aron Iradukunda last year in Buffalo, New York. Fortunately, he survived the harrowing experience, but he lost a leg and sustained other serious injuries.

Could the accident have been avoided if a human was on board? We’ll never know. But this story exemplifies the misgivings many people have over the current industry trend.

Cutting costs … at what cost?

Rail companies are operating with slim profit margins, which has led to the prioritization of cost-cutting measures like eliminating staff and sending out much longer trains. The combination of these strategies only increases the risk to workers and the general public.

Aron’s case wasn’t an anomaly. A woman was struck and killed just a few months later in a nearby community under very similar circumstances.

And at least three rail inspectors have been killed by remote-operated trains since 2015.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee May 28th, 2024
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