List of communities enacting remote control safety resolutions continues to grow

A total of 34 different communities in the United States - 24 cities and 10 counties - have enacted remote control safety resolutions, each calling for improved safety of remote control trains.

Since the last issue of the Locomotive Engineer Newsletter was published, three cities and one county have joined the ever-growing list -- Commerce, Calif., Clinton, Iowa, Montebello, Calif., and Knox County, Tenn.

Many of the resolutions urge the Federal Railroad Administration to develop comprehensive and enforceable regulations to govern the operation of remote control locomotives.

The FRA has issued recommended guidelines intended for use in remote control "pilot projects." However, railroad companies have seized the opportunity to use the non-binding guidelines, not for pilot projects, but for full-scale implementation of remote control operations in their yard operations.

Commerce, Calif.

Under the direction of BLE California State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Smith, the effort to obtain the Commerce resolution was spearheaded by Eric Johnson, Legislative Representative of BLE Division 662 (Los Angeles), Ray Enriquez, Legislative Representative of BLE Division 660 (Los Angeles), and Kent Richards, Legislative Representative of BLE Division 56 (West Colton).

The brothers made a computer and video presentation to the city council in support of the resolution, which was adopted in mid-July.

In June, 28 runaway Union Pacific cars loaded with lumber reached speeds of 86 mph before derailing in Commerce, a Los Angeles suburb. Thirteen people were injured and two houses were demolished. While the accident was not attributed to remote control, it served to heighten the City Council's awareness of railroad operations in their community and their need to take steps to protect the safety of their citizens.

The brothers involved expressed thanks to Chairman Smith and the members of the Commerce City Council. They also noted that their ability to work together, even though they represent different railroads, helped to get the job done. Brother Johnson represents members from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe while Brothers Enriquez and Richards represent members from the Union Pacific.

A copy of the Commerce resolution is available on the BLE as a PDF at:

<http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/commerce.pdf>.

Clinton, Iowa

Brother William Peart, a member of BLE Division 125 (Clinton, Iowa), served as spokesman for the group that lobbied in favor of the Clinton resolution, which was adopted on July 22. He described the lobbying effort as a "pretty tough fight."

While the BLE members involved had hoped to secure a resolution with "more teeth," Brother Peart said they were successful in achieving their main goal.

"At least we made the City Council and the citizens of Clinton aware of remote control implementation," he said, noting that the issue received coverage in the local newspaper.

Brother Peart recognized those who were involved in organizing the lobbying effort: Bob Harvey, BLE Regulatory Research Coordinator; Tim Windsor, Regional Mobilization Coordinator; Steve Fye, Local Chairman of Division 125; W.J. "Bill" McClimon, Acting Legislative Representative of Division 125; Dan Jacobsen, Division 125; Art Wilkens, Division 125; and Shane Nixon, Division 125.

Peart also noted that members of the United Transportation Union helped the BLE in its lobbying effort. The UTU Brothers contacted members of City Council privately by telephone in support of the remote control safety resolution, but did not attend public meetings and did not wish to have their names published.

"The guys who have the contract to operate remote control don't think it's safe, but they don't have a choice," Peart said.

Brother Peart also thanked members of the Clinton City Council for their patience and for adopting the safety resolution.

A copy of the resolution is available on the BLE website at: <http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/clinton.pdf>.

Montebello, Calif.

California State Legislative Board Chairman Smith led another successful campaign to enact a remote control safety resolution, this time in Montebello, Calif. Montebello neighbors Commerce, Calif., which passed a safety resolution a few weeks prior to Montebello.

Chairman Smith praised the efforts of Brother Johnson, Division 662, and Brother Enriquez, Division 660, who also worked on the Commerce resolution. Chairman Smith also thanked Montebello Mayor Kathy Salazar for her kindness and consideration.

A copy of the resolution is available on the BLE website at: <http://www.ble.org/pr/pdf/montebello.pdf>.

Knox County, Tenn.

Knox County became the second Tennessee county to express concerns regarding remote control train operations in their community, joining Unicoi County, Tenn., in adopting a remote control safety resolution.

On July 28, the Knox County Commission overwhelmingly enacted a resolution that asks the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt comprehensive regulations for the use of remote control engines. A similar resolution was enacted by Unicoi County on March 24.

Knox County is the 34th community in the United States to adopt such a resolution, joining 24 cities and nine other counties.

In adopting the resolution, the Knox County Commission recognized that Class I railroads operating in Knox County handle many dangerous and hazardous materials, not only through the community, but switch them as well, and that the U.S. government has issued warnings to the nation's railroads to be on the alert for vandalism and terrorist threats. In verbal discussions, many commissioners said that this could be a first step in addressing what could become a serious safety concern for the citizens of Knox County.

Brother T. R. (Ray) Dobson, Legislative Representative of BLE Division 782 (Etowah, Tenn.), said this has been a unique opportunity for two BLE Divisions to work together - Division 782 (CSX Transportation) and 239 (Norfolk Southern).

Brother John Mason, President of Division 239 (Knoxville, Tenn.), and John Norman, Legislative Representative of Division 239, were very helpful and instrumental in the passage of this resolution, Dobson said.

Brother Dobson thanked Knox County Commissioners Mark Cawood and Larry Stephens, who served as sponsor and co-sponsor of the resolution, respectively.

"Their work and guidance in getting the resolution passed was tremendous," Dobson said. "I would also like to thank Division 782 Local Chairman Rick Skidmore for his constant support and help. A thanks goes to Chairman Jimmy Brittain and the rest of the Tennessee State Legislative Board for their support and help."

He also recognized the assistance of: Division 781 (Erwin, Tenn.) Legislative Representative J. T. (John) Little; Michigan State Legislative Board Chairman G. D. Powell; and the Texas State Legislative Board and its Vice-Chairman Herb Yambra, for all their help in putting together a successful presentation.

A copy of the resolution is on the BLE website.

24 Cities Enact Resolutions

In addition to Montebello, Calif., Commerce, Calif., and Clinton, Iowa, 21 other U.S. cities have adopted similar remote control safety 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.; Durand, Mich; Flat Rock, Mich.; Woodhaven, Mich; Flint, Mich.; and Sparks, Nev.

10 Counties Enact Resolutions

In addition to Knox County, Tenn., nine 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.; Unicoi County, Tenn.; and Contra Costa County, Calif.

 

 

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