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Pa. bill introduced to focus on rail security

(The BLET Pennsylvania State Legislative Board circulated the following news release on April 6.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- With recent terrorist rail attacks in Moscow and Madrid and threats continuing to surface around the world, PA House Transportation Chairman Richard "Rick" A. Geist (R-Altoona) introduced a Pennsylvania rail security and RFAC expansion bill last week to improve safety and security on the state's rail system.

"The recent attacks on railways are painful proof that terrorists target trains, just as they have targeted planes," Geist said during Tuesday's press conference.

"It is imperative that Pennsylvania take a proactive approach to evaluating the security of its rail systems and then implement feasible recommendations for heightening that security."

Serious concerns about rail safety and security have been raised over the last year by railroad workers, "our first line of defense," according to Geist. So this bill enjoys wide support among both railroad companies and an alliance of unions led by The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) which includes the Pennsylvania Teamsters and AFL-CIO.

Ken Kertesz, Chairman of the Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, spoke on behalf of both the BLET and Teamsters. "We are here today to work together in a collaborative effort to move this legislation forward," Kertesz said. "We have asked for help to get the necessary tools to protect our employees, our passengers and the public. And this bill is the first step in that direction."

Also voicing support for the legislation was legislative members of the House Transportation Committee; the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness; and Keith Martin, Pennsylvania Director of Homeland Security.

"One can only hope we never experience another 9-11," Ken Kertesz of the BLET explained to the press on Tuesday. "We can never be protected 100%, but this legislation is a major step in the right direction."

Public affairs specialist Linda Rhinehart has been working on the bill for some time and she commented that "the support for this bill is unprecedented."

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

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