Woodbridge, N.J. bans remote control

Becomes 11th U.S. city to take action against remotes

On March 4, the Township of Woodbridge, N.J. became the 11th U.S. city to take action against remote control locomotives. The Township adopted a resolution citing safety risks associated with remote control locomotives and demanded the risks be eliminated before the technology is implemented in Woodbridge.

The resolution specifically urges the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to ban the use of remote control trains in Woodbridge until safety measures are improved.

Township officials, realizing that it will take some action by the federal government to eliminate the risks, are also seeking support from U.S. Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

The resolution was introduced by Councilman Vincent Martino, according to New Jersey State Legislative Board Chairman Ken Michel.

"I don't see any reason to run remote-control locomotives," said Councilman Martino in an article published by the Home News Tribune. "The state of New Jersey is one of the most-populated states. It's too congested. There are many grade crossings,"

Martino added, "This is a way of sending a message to the elected officials on a national level. Hopefully, we'll get federal legislation to limit the use of remote-control engines in populated areas."

The resolution notes that the FRA has granted permission to railroads to operate unmanned, remote control locomotives by less trained, tested and qualified employees, and that the FRA has only established guidelines and not enforceable regulations in connection with the operation of remote control trains.

As of March 11, Woodbridge joined Bakersfield, Calif., Beardstown, Ill., Baton Rouge, La., Shreveport, La., Detroit, Mich., Marysville, Mich., Boston, Mass., Cleveland, Ohio, Pine Bluff, Ark. and North Little Rock, Ark. in passing resolutions against remote control locomotives. Cuyahoga County in Ohio and Whitley County in Kentucky have also passed resolutions banning remote control trains.

The text of the resolution is as follows:


WHEREAS, railroads operate throughout the Township of Woodbridge (the "Township") over numerous public and private rail crossings accessible to persons of all ages; and

WHEREAS, railroad equipment is known to present significant danger to persons and property from collision, derailment, and possible release of hazardous materials; and

WHEREAS, an enormous amount of rail cargo traveling through the township consists of potentially lethal chemicals and hazardous materials; and

WHEREAS, in addition to accidental derailments, collisions and spills, the United States government has issued a safety alert against vandalism and terrorist threats against railroads; and

WHEREAS, operation of a railroad is traditionally conducted with the use of locomotives manned by experienced, trained individuals who are required to be certified prior to operating the locomotive; and

WHEREAS, railroads have been granted permission from the Federal Railroad Administrations ("FRA") to operate unmanned (remote controlled) locomotives by less trained, tested and qualified individuals; and

WHEREAS, the FRA has only established guidelines and not regulations in connection with such remote controlled operations; and

WHEREAS, the Municipal Council of the Township of Woodbridge are charged with protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of the Township; and

WHEREAS, the Municipal Council of the Township of Woodbridge believes that significant safety risks exist which must be eliminated before "remote control" trains are permitted to operate in the Township;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WOODBRIDGE, that the Federal Railroad Administration is hereby urged to ban the use of "remote controlled" trains within the Township of Woodbridge until the following safety concerns are met:

1. Remote controlled locomotives be barred from transporting chemicals and hazardous materials; and be prohibited from operating on or near (i) tracks occupied by hazardous materials; or (ii) facilities which house hazardous materials.

2. Railroads operating a remote control locomotive be required to notify the Office of the Mayor before implementing such operations.

3. Remote control locomotives be barred from operating over a public or private highway rail crossing without a person occupying the cab of the locomotive who has the required skill to stop the locomotive and its attached equipment.

4. The railroad be required to provide effective and reliable protection at the point of movement in any location accessible to the general public for any remote control operation.

5. Remote controlled locomotives have sufficiently secured operating cabs and controls to prevent against terrorists, vandals and other unauthorized persons.

6. Railroad be required to install a track related device to stop a remote control locomotive in the event of a runaway.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the FRA develop comprehensive regulations for the use of remote control locomotives and those who operate them; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the FRA order an immediate halt to operation of remote controlled trains within the Township of Woodbridge, New Jersey; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Adopted March 4, 2003



John M. Mitch, RMC. CMR

Municipal Clerk



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers