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Safety, security earn failing grade in worker survey of nation's rails

WASHINGTON -- Rail workers report that America's rail system is no better protected than before terrorist bombings in Madrid and London, despite repeated warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that trains are a likely terrorist target.

The Teamsters Rail Conference today released a report documenting vulnerabilities on America's railways. Employees of Union Pacific, CSX, Burlington Northern and others participated in the report. Rail workers from coast to coast tell of a startling lack of safety and security measures in place along the nation’s rail network.

“Our members told us that dangerous and possibly deadly situations are a daily occurrence on the rails,” said John Murphy, Director of the Teamsters Rail Conference.

“The rail corporations and the Federal Railroad Administration must be held accountable for the appalling state of security on the rails and the lack of safety training our members receive.”

The report, titled “High Alert: Workers Warn of Security Gaps on Nation’s Railroads,” is based on more than 4,000 surveys completed by Class I, regional, short line and commuter railroad employees, warns that U.S. rail carriers have failed to demonstrate improved or increased safety and security on the rail system.

“In this age of increased demand for safety within our borders, it is unconscionable that these employees witness these frightening lapses in security on our rails each day,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). “The facts in this report show the outcome of the Administration’s lack of spending for rail and transit security compared to the billions of dollars committed to airline security.”

Workers, who reported the safety and security measures in place on any one workday during a year-long survey period, reported:

  • Ninety-four percent of respondents said that rail yard access was not secure;
  • Eighty-three percent of respondents said that they have not received any, or additional training related to terrorism prevention and response over the past 12 months;
  • Seventy percent of respondents reported seeing trespassers in the yard; and
  • Minimal security training for employees who have been warned that they could be the target of a terrorist attack.

    “This is a direct result of rail corporations downsizing their workforces and relying more and more on mechanized means of surveilling their infrastructure,” Murphy said. “No electronic device can ever replace the eyes and ears of trained rail employees. We are asking Congress to take a long, hard look at our finds and bring the rail corporations to task for having allowed lax systems to continue.”

    To read the High Alert: Workers Warn of Security Gaps on Nation's Railroads report, go to:
    http://www.teamster.org/divisions/rail/pdfs/railsecuritybook.pdf

    Thursday, September 29, 2005
    bentley@ble-t.org

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