Members of Congress focus on Rail Security Day

BLET and Teamster members joined members of Congress on June 21 to speak out about the state of rail security in the nation at rallies across the country. Among those holding press conferences or rallies were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) at Grand Central terminal in New York City and Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) at the Amtrak station in Akron, Ohio.

"I thank Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Brown for taking leadership roles on rail security," BLET National President Don Hahs said. "I thank all members of Congress for focusing on rail security as well as all BLET members who participated in the rallies on June 21."

"The Bush administration is failing to address the threat posed by hazardous materials routed on rails through high target areas. Since 9/11, the government has been focused on airline security while leaving the rails virtually unprotected," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "While more attention has been paid to passenger train security in the U.S. after the Madrid bombings, freight rail security has been ignored. With the nation's elevated threat level, much more needs to be done to secure our rail system."

Unlike the airline industry, the rail industry has been left to its own devices to protect against potential terrorist attacks. In fact, the rail industry has introduced cost-cutting measures that have replaced federally certified locomotive engineers with remote control technology, leaving locomotives unmanned and the railroad infrastructure vulnerable. The contrast between funding levels for security is startling: since 9/11 the airline industry has been the beneficiary of nearly $3 billion in Homeland Security Department funds for bolstering security while the rail industry has received less than $100 million.

"We must shift the focus of the rail corporations from pure profits to the safety and well being of rail employees and the general public. We need the eyes and ears of every railroad employee on the job and helping secure the rails," continued Hoffa.

Rail Security Day was organized by Democrats in the House of Representatives to increase awareness of the dangerous security gaps in the rail industry.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) speaks at a rally with BLET members at Grand Central terminal in New York City on June 21 as part of Rail Security Day. Maloney serves as Chair of the Task Force on Homeland Security for the House Democratic Caucus. To her immediate right is Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), who serves as the Co-Chair of the Task Force on Homeland Security for the House Democratic Caucus.

Mickey Evans, a member of BLET Division 497 (Jersey City, N.J.), is flanked by Congressman Engel and Congresswoman Maloney during the press conference. He works for PATH.

Kelly Cassidy, Legislative Representative of BLET Division 269 (Jamaica, Long Island, NY), talks about rail safety on passenger trains during the press conference. She works for the Long Island Rail Road.

Congressman Sherrod Brown addresses the media in Akron, Ohio, on Rail Security Day.

Mo Morrow, Director of Communications for the BLET National Division, is intereviewed by the media at the Amtrak station in Akron, Ohio, on Rail Security Day. Brother Morrow talked about the realities of a terrorist attack on our nation's rail system.

Jim Ong, Chairman of the BLET Ohio State Legislative Board, is interviewed regarding remote control issues as they relate to national security at a press conference in Akron, Ohio.



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen