Kentucky county asks FRA to ban remote control trains

The Whitley County, Ky., Fiscal Court is asking the Federal Railroad Administration to ban the use of remote controlled locomotives in the name of public safety.

The fiscal court passed a resolution to that effect on February 18. It is also considering a possible ordinance, which would forbid their use in Whitley County.

Whitley is the second U.S. county to call for a ban on remote control trains. On January 31, Cuyahoga County in Ohio, where Cleveland is located, passed a resolution suggesting a moratorium on remote control trains until federal safety regulations have been improved.

In addition, numerous U.S. cities have passed resolutions calling for either a ban on remote control locomotives or improved safety regulations to govern their use.

Brother Tommy Mayne, Chairman of the Kentucky State Legislative Board, spoke to the court and cited numerous safety concerns regarding remote control operations, including the limited training remote control operators receive and the type of hazardous chemicals transported by railroads.

"What we are doing in our yards is handling nuclear waste, gas, chlorine gas, and all kinds of hazardous materials with all kinds of people who have not been properly trained and with a limited amount of experience in most cases," Brother Mayne said.

As of March 6, eight U.S. cities and two counties have taken action against remote control locomotives. Five cities - Baton Rouge, La., Shreveport, La., Detroit, Boston and Pine Bluff, Ark. - have passed resolutions calling for an outright ban on remote control operations. Three more cities - Cleveland, Marysville, Mich., and North Little Rock, Ark., - have passed resolutions calling for improved safety regulations to govern remote control operations.

(The Corbin, Ky., News Journal contributed to this report.)



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers