Locomotive theft ignites rail security push in Ohio
Ohio's House of Representatives will consider a railroad security bill in light of a locomotive theft in southeastern Ohio on January 16.
State Representative Bob Hagan, who is a working locomotive engineer and a member of Division 757 of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), held a press conference on January 18 where he announced that he will reintroduce Senate Bill 363, the Rail Safety and Security Act. Also at the press conference in Youngstown were State Senator Capri Cafaro and Tim Hanely, the BLET's State Legislative Board Chairman for the State of Ohio.
The legislation would require railroad owners and operators to secure their facilities from the threat of terror strikes and provide for proper oversight from the appropriate state agencies to ensure compliance.
Early on January 16, two boys escaped from a juvenile detention home in Nelsonville, Ohio, broke into a building that houses a Hocking Valley Scenic Railway locomotive, and took the locomotive on a 12-mile joy ride before being apprehended by police.
Chairman Hanely said the theft is proof positive that securing Ohio's railroad system is long overdue.
"What further proof is needed?" Hanely asked. "If we can't secure a potential weapon of mass destruction from kids, how could we ever think our rail networks are safe from terrorists?
"This industry has ignored the problem far too long and it's high time our legislators stepped in to protect Ohio's citizens."
Hanely said that Ohio has fallen victim to numerous rail accidents in the recent past, many of them serious. He cited a train fire in Chillicothe, a runaway train out of Toledo, a fatal accident and train sabotage in Cincinnati, and train crews being fired upon with rifles while en route between Ohio cities as examples of security lapses in the state's rail network.
"Enacting a rail security bill could have prevented most of these incidents," Hanely said.
Rep. Hagan reintroduced the legislation, S.B. 363, before the Ohio House of Representatives in mid January.
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen