TOPEKA (KSNT) – Big safety improvement changes are coming to Kansas with a decision between the governor’s office and state transportation officials.

Governor Laura Kelly announced she has directed the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to have at least two railroad crew members in lead locomotives. The rule would make Kansas the ninth state with the requirement.

In 2022, Kansas had five deaths and 14 injuries at railroad crossings, placing it in the top 25 states for crossing collisions, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor. The regulation would be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) has supported the rule, according to the Office of the Governor.

“This is the proudest day of my career,” said SMART Transportation Division Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo. “I’m eternally grateful to my team as well as Governor Kelly, Attorney General Kobach, and their staffs for safeguarding our members and the public through the work they have done on this regulation.” 

Implementing the rule would have no increased labor costs as most railroads in Kansas already operate with two-person crews, according to the Office of the Governor.