26th community takes action on remotes

California's Contra Costa County resolution is 9th county, joining 17 cities

Contra Costa County, Calif., is the ninth county in the United States to pass a resolution regarding remote control locomotives.

To date, 26 communities (17 cities and nine counties) have passed resolutions calling for further investigation and improved safety of remote control operations.

The May 6 resolution urges the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt enforceable safety regulations for the use of remote control trains.

According to County Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier, safety was a priority in passage of the resolution. He said Contra Costa County is home to four of California's 13 oil refineries with a fifth near by.

"We must also remember that the Concord Naval Weapons Station has been designated one of the two preferred U.S. ports of entry for spent nuclear fuel rods, an extremely hazardous material," DeSaulnier said.

He noted that spent nuclear fuel rods are shipped through the county by rail. In a news release, DeSaulnier expressed worry that the unregulated use of remote control trains could contribute to a major derailment in Contra Costa County.

DeSaulnier cited a remote control accident on the California Northern Railroad as another reason for passage of the Contra Costa resolution. An employee at the shortline lost his leg while operating a train by remote control in September of 2002.

DeSaulnier told critics that, "This resolution is not legally binding. But I hope it helps create public awareness of the practice and as a result makes railroads more cautious in using remote controlled trains."

BLE California State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Smith made Supervisor DeSaulnier aware of the practice of operating trains by remote control in Contra Costa County.

"I would like to thank retired BLE Brother James Brennan, California State Legislative Board First Vice Chairman Darrel N. Azarcon, and Division 415 Legislative Representative Paul Turney for all of their assistance and support in this endeavor," Chairman Smith said.

In addition to Contra Costa County, eight other counties have passed similar remote control resolutions. They are: Douglas County, Wisc.; West Baton Rouge Parish, La.; Point Coupee Parish, La.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Huron County, Ohio; Erie County, Ohio; Whitley County, Ky.; and Unicoi County, Tenn.

Seventeen U.S. cities have adopted similar resolutions: Baton Rouge, La.; Detroit, Mich.; Shreveport, La.; Marysville, Mich.; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Pine Bluff, Ark.; North Little Rock, Ark.; Beardstown, Ill.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Woodbridge, N.J.; Belen, N.M.; Maple Heights, Ohio; Alliance, Neb.; Evansville, Ind.; Dupo, Ill.; and Durand, Mich.

The Contra Costa County resolution is available on the BLE website at: http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/ContraCosta.pdf

For a list of all cities and counties, and copies of their resolutions (where available), please visit the BLE website at: http://www.ble.org/remotecontrol/resolutions.asp



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers