Tennessee county opposes remote control

The Unicoi County Commission in Tennessee unanimously passed a resolution on March 24 against the use of remote control locomotives, becoming the fourth county to do so in the United States.

In part, it reads:

"Whereas, this legislative body is aware that there are significant safety problems relating to the movement of rail cars through remote control devices;

"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Unicoi County Legislative Body that it supports any and all municipal, state or federal legislation to prohibit the use of remote control devices for movement of rail cars within Unicoi County."

In addition to four U.S. counties, 11 cities have adopted resolutions that condemn remote control operations. Some of the resolutions call for a ban of remote control. All of the resolutions ask the Federal Railroad Administration to step up and make remote control operations safer.

Unicoi County Executive Larry Rose told The Erwin Record newspaper, "I have gotten several, several requests from people at the railroad, not just engineers, who question the safety of the remote controls."

Officials from CSXT, which operates through Unicoi County and the city of Erwin, Tenn., gave county and city leaders demonstrations of the remote control technology. The city officials, however, did not like the show.

"I went to the demonstration and I worked for the railroad for about nine years," Commissioner Kenneth Garland told the Johnson City Press newspaper. "With everything that is going on in the world and the tracks running by a nuclear facility, I just don't think it's safe."

Board Member Edgar Rice also watched a demonstration and told the newspaper he was not satisfied with what he saw.

BLE Division 781 Legislative Representative John Little spent nearly three months lobbying local officials in support of the resolution. He thanked Unicoi County Executive Larry Rose, who presented the resolution to the Board. Brother Little noted that the city of Erwin, Tenn., is currently considering a similar resolution of its own.

Brother Little thanked the following people in assisting to obtain the Resolution: the members of BLE Division 781, their family members and friends; the community of Erwin, Tenn; BLE Division 781 Local Chairman Matt Thornton; Division 781 President Steve Fox; Division 781 Secretary Rasnick; Division 781 Retired Member David Wilson; Co-Committee Remote Chairmen Brothers Meehan and Wilcox; Tennessee State Legislative Board Chairman Jimmy Brittain; TSLB Secretary-Treasurer John Norman; and Louisiana State Legislative Board Chairman, Mike O'Brien.

"Brother John Norman's support was invaluable," Brother Little said. "Our association with the AFL-CIO, CLC also brought support and resources that we look forward to in the future.

"This was a great experience although exhausting," he continued. "I am truly overwhelmed by the response of 5,000-plus letters faxed to the County alone. This shows that people, resources and good fortune can bring about results."

(The Johnson City Press and The Erwin Record contributed to this report.)


© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers