Hahs: Increase funding for rail security training

Terrorist attacks in London reveal need for improved security in U.S.; Senate bill needs support

(BLET Editor's Note: BLET National President Don Hahs issued the following statement in the wake of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London.)

On behalf of the 55,000 men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, I extend condolences to the families and victims of the tragic July 7 terrorist bombings in London.

Great Britain stood side-by-side with America after our country was attacked by cowardly terrorists on 9/11, and we are honor and duty-bound to support our British allies in the wake of 7/7.

As British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than (terrorists') determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people." We in the BLET embrace those remarks as they reflect the attitude and spirit of the American people in the war on terrorism.

The fact that the 7/7 bombings focused on London's rail and mass transit system drives our determination even farther. In 2004, terrorists targeted the rail system in Madrid, killing nearly 200 innocent victims.

These terrorist attacks should serve as a warning to the railroad industry in the United States. We in the BLET are determined not to let the same thing happen here in the United States.

Let this serve as a call to rail management to work together and improve our readiness to face and fight these terrorists. The greatest weapon in this war is preparation and constant vigilance.

Let us work together for the protection of our country by increasing rail security funding and education. Let us work together to pass legislation that will provide security training to the workers on the front lines in this war - the locomotive engineers and trainmen who operate the trains crisscrossing American soil.

Currently in Congress, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) is sponsoring a rail security bill that would provide a $10 million training fund for rail workers who handle hazardous materials.

The Hazardous Materials Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2005 would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a comprehensive strategy for handling the transportation of the most dangerous chemicals by rail and would work with state and local officials to determine which areas are "high threat corridors."

The bill - while not a cure all for the security gaps in our nation's rail system - is a step in the right direction. By working together, and by boosting the training of our members on the front lines, we can beat these terrorists.

As Sir Winston Churchill said in 1941, "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job."

 

© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen