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BLET calls for Pa. train security alert

(The BLET’s Pennsylvania State Legislative Board circulated the following news release on April 5.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Ken Kertesz, Legislative Board Chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) has asked for a security alert to the general public calling for increased awareness when traveling on and around Pennsylvania trains.

Kertesz said he is reacting after the release of an FBI and Department of Homeland Security warning yesterday sent to law enforcement officials nationwide, which said that train terrorists could attempt to conceal explosives in luggage and carry-on bags like duffel bags and backpacks.

The security bulletin cites uncorroborated intelligence indicating that such bombs could be made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel, similar to what was used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building in April 1995.

"We need the public's support by being more aware of their surroundings in and around stations and on trains," Kertesz said. "Attention paid to unattended luggage, backpacks, trash in stations, overhead racks and under train seats will help of us."

Kertesz said "as a result of the tragedy in Spain, as well as the ongoing information from the Department of Homeland Security, our union is taking measures to protect the traveling public, our rail systems, and ourselves."

Kertesz said he is hopeful Governor Rendell will soon issue a public safety statement to alert the traveling public.

"We are sending a request to the Governor's office to ask that he alert the rail traveling public to be aware of possible attacks on our rail system." Kertesz said. "He is the best advocate for public rail security without unduly raising public fears. We need to prepare far more extensive measures to protect our rail system and we all know that."

Kertesz said that a rail security bill was introduced in the PA Legislature last week, but more action is necessary now to plan for the summer.

"We support House Transportation Chairman Rick Geist's Rail Infrastructure Bill" he said, "but we have to be much more proactive with security right now. Terrorists aren't going to wait until we pass a bill to act."

At the Federal level Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), a rail commuter from Wilmington to Washington, said Congress has "utterly failed" to make rail travel safer. Biden has cosponsored a bill to spend $515 million on rail security next year. The BLET is working with various State governments across the country to get similar legislation introduced.

Founded on May 8, 1863, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is the senior rail labor organization in North America. This past December, the BLET merged with the Teamsters to work together on transportation security issues.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

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