Passenger Rail News Briefs

Judge issues TRO to halt LIRR strike threat

The BLET's Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment's plans to strike over management's illegal use of contractors to move locomotives was halted after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on January 27.

LIRR General Chairman Bob Evers, said the union would obey the judge's order, but is preparing for a court date on February 18, where it will fight the LIRR's decision to use outside labor to move trains in a Queens maintenance yard.

At issue is warranty work being performed on new M-7 electric cars by the manufacturer, Bombardier of Canada. The railroad leased a Long Island City maintenance shop to Bombardier for the work.

Evers said he doesn't dispute that the railroad is entitled to the warranty work, but the existing union contract stipulates that certified LIRR engineers should move the trains. He said it's a major issue because it could lead to the railroad privatizing other types of work. For example, he said, the railroad could decide to contract or lease the operation of its stations or branches to a private business.

(The New York Daily News)

Bush budged proposal would eliminate Amtrak

The Bush administration has proposed eliminating operating subsidies for Amtrak as part of a push to cut budget deficits.

Bush's fiscal 2006 budget, which he sent to Congress on February 7, allocated no subsidy for Amtrak to run its trains. But it offered $360 million for maintenance on the flagship Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston - which Amtrak owns - and for commuter services.

The proposal must be approved by Congress, and the administration faces a fight in getting approval for a budget that aims to nearly freeze the growth of domestic spending not tied to national defense.

Many called it Amtrak's most serious threat yet and a stark reality that U.S. transportation planners are serious about dramatically altering or dismantling the rail line.

For the current fiscal year, Bush proposed $900 million and Congress raised that to $1.1 billion, of which about $570 million was operating subsidies. For next fiscal year, the budget includes nothing for operating subsidies and about $360 million for capital expenses for the Northeast corridor.

(Reuters, New York Times)



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen