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BLET launches close call reporting system at Amtrak

CLEVELAND, September 14 — Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) will begin working together to improve safe train operations under a joint Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) at nine locations throughout the United States.

C3RS enables operating employees to confidentially report close calls that occur anywhere the Amtrak employees work (specifically, employees who work in rail yards in Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Seattle).

The agreement was signed by Amtrak, the BLET, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and United Transportation Union (UTU).

The goal is to encourage management and employees to identify potential risks so that specific safety countermeasures can be developed and implemented. Under the pilot program, employees can make voluntary and confidential reports of close call incidents without concern for disciplinary or FRA enforcement action.

Examples of reportable close call incidents include a wide range of issues all the way from leaving a piece of equipment unsecured up to incidents of a train operating beyond its track authority.

Close call events will be reported to NASA, which has years of experience with the risk-reduction approach to safety and will process the information to maintain the confidentiality of the reporting employee. Then, a Peer Review Team with representatives from Amtrak, FRA, BLET, and UTU will analyze the close call incident to determine appropriate corrective action.

The BLET has been the leading rail labor union to work with the FRA during the development and initial launch of C3RS in 2002. The program was started in 2002 when the FRA formed the Close Calls Planning Committee to study the value of a reporting system in the railroad industry.

The BLET inked a similar C3RS agreement with New Jersey Transit in April of 2008, and has additional close call reporting agreements with Union Pacific and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

BLET was represented in the negotiations by Amtrak General Chairman Mark Kenny, who was assisted by several Amtrak members.

BLET National President Dennis Pierce said, “I want to congratulate Brother Kenny and those who are bringing this program to fruition. Working together to address systemic safety issues we can make the railroad a safer place, not only for Amtrak’s passengers, but also for the hard working professionals of the BLET and UTU."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
bentley@ble-t.org

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