Alliance, Neb., resolution takes aim at remotes

The city of Alliance, Neb., is the 14th city in the United States to pass a resolution restricting the operation of remote control locomotives.

The resolution imposes five safety requirements on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway before it can begin using remote control trains in Alliance. One of the requirements mandates that remote control engines handling hazardous materials can travel no faster than 5 mph at public crossings or over/under passes.

The Alliance City Council's action is significant because all of its members work for the railroad (two locomotive engineers, two conductors and one machinist) and are highly familiar with the issue of remote control. Members of the Council cited safety concerns as the main reason for adopting the resolution.

Councilman Dan Kusek is a 33-year railroad veteran who works as a locomotive engineer. He drafted the resolution, which the Council approved by a 4-1 vote. He also introduced the resolution, citing safety reasons and outlining concerns with radio interference, practical jokers and even hazardous materials in the hands of terrorists.

Mayor Mike Dafney, a locomotive engineer who said he would abstain if the vote were based on job security, voted in favor of the resolution based on safety issues. Dafney and Kusek are engineers, Councilmen Kevin Dahlstedt and Gary Goodell are conductors, and Councilman Dan Dickenson is a machinist.

Dahlstedt, who also holds the title of Alliance Vice Mayor, cast the lone vote against the resolution. He is a former company officer and member of the United Transportation Union.

Two local BNSF officials plus two BNSF officers from Lincoln and Denver presented some facts about remote controlled engines to the council. Bob Munguia, BNSF Director of Government Affairs, made a video presentation touting remote control safety.

BNSF is scheduled to begin remote control training on April 28 in Alliance with implementation expected by May 12.

The city of Alliance joins 13 other cities and seven counties in passing resolutions to restrict the operation of remote control locomotives.

A copy of the Alliance resolution is on the BLE website at:

http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/alliance.pdf

(The Associated Press, Alliance Times-Herald, and ExpressNews.com contributed to this report.)

 

© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers