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Pa. locomotive engineers launch system-wide security survey

(The BLET Pennsylvania State Legislative Board issued the following news release on August 20.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- "We intend to identify existing structural weaknesses in the Pennsylvania rail system and make appropriate recommendations to improve security and safety for passengers, freight and communities impacted by rail transport," Ken Kertesz, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), announced today.

Kertesz said all 1300 locomotive engineers operating trains in Pennsylvania will be surveyed in detail to identify and locate security weaknesses throughout the state's rail system.

"We will also make our survey forms available free to other rail unions -- maintenance workers and conductors -- so that we have a system-wide survey from a variety of perspectives in and around all the railroads of Pennsylvania," he added.

"We are taking this action in part to respond to Governor Rendell's directive for a prompt and broad range of notifications and consultations to bring protective resources to their highest capacity," Kertesz noted.

Kertesz said that this system survey approach is the most efficient way to identify security vulnerabilities in the state from the ground up, because locomotive engineers operate all types of trains, both passenger and freight, every day throughout the Commonwealth.

"These men and women operate the entire system every day, and they are in a good position to identify and report security vulnerabilities."

Once vulnerabilities and threats are identified, Kertesz said the BLET will provide a report of findings and recommendations to Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director Keith Martin.

"We are working closely with Director Martin," Kertesz noted, "and we will of course provide him with our findings."

Kertesz estimated completing the survey titled, "Safe Rail, Secure Pennsylvania" in about 60 days, with a full report of findings in approximately 90 days.

Terrorist attacks against rail systems have recently occurred in Spain, Russia, India and Pakistan and the FBI reported that Al Queda operatives in U.S. were found to be gathering information about rail systems in the northeast.

Kertesz emphasized that Pennsylvania has one of the best safety records of any rail system in the world. "Our trains are safe, and we expect the "Safe Rail, Secure Pennsylvania" survey will facilitate security improvements throughout our rail system."

In a recently released report by Pennsylvania Homeland Security, "2003 Commonwealth of PA 3-Year Homeland Security Assessment and Strategy", the nine Regional Counter-Terrorism Task Force Teams submitted the top ten vulnerable sites. In each of the nine regions, railroads were listed in the top three.

Representing 50,000 active and retired members nationally, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. More information about the Pennsylvania BLET is available at, www.pslb-blet.org.

Friday, August 20, 2004

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