Remote control safety push continues

61 different communities across U.S. now have remote control safety resolutions

As this issue of the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News goes to press, a total of 61 communities - 42 cities and 19 counties - have passed remote control safety resolutions.

All resolutions call upon the Federal Railroad Administration to enact enforceable federal regulations - as opposed to the current recommended guidelines - to govern the operation of remote control trains.

Currently, the operation of remote control trains in the United States is unregulated by the federal government. To date, the FRA has only issued recommended guidelines for remote control train operations, which are not enforceable in a court of law. Major railroad companies often ignore the FRA's recommended guidelines in the day-to-day operation of remote control trains, placing corporate greed above safety.

Most recently, five communities - Champaign County, Ill.; Beaver County, Utah; the city of Milford, Utah; Erie County, N.Y.; and El Paso County, Texas - have passed safety resolutions since the issue was last reported on by the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News.

Champaign County, Ill.

BLET Illinois State Legislative Board Chairman C.E. "Ed" Way thanked the members of BLET Division 602 for their hard work in securing a remote control safety resolution in Champaign County, Ill. Those he thanked included: Division 602 Local Chairman Art Rapp, Division 602 Legislative Representative Tony Belscamper and Division 602 President Tom McKinley. He also acknowledged Patricia Avery, Chair of the Champaign County Board; Mark Sheldon, County Clerk; and Steve Becket, County Attorney.

Beaver County, Utah

On June 7, Beaver County, Utah, voiced opposition to the unregulated use of remote control locomotives in their community.

The County Commissioners, who represent the area around Milford, Utah, unanimously passed the safety resolution because they believe that "it is not in the best interest of our citizens to see this technology implemented without thorough and comprehensive regulations."

BLET Utah State Legislative Board First Vice Chairman Jeff Worthington acknowledged BLET Division 681 (Milford, Utah) President Scott Cook for his "efforts and hard work in getting this information out to the Beaver County Commission and making them aware of the potential hazards associated with remote control technology."

Milford, Utah

The City Council of Milford, Utah, passed a resolution in opposition to remote control locomotives on June 1.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, asks the Federal Railroad Administration to develop enforceable regulations governing the use of remote control technology.

BLET Utah State Legislative Board First Vice-Chairman Jeff Worthington thanked Scott Cook, President of Division 681 (Milford, Utah), for his "perseverance in bringing the remote control issue to light to the population and general public of Milford Utah."

Erie County, N.Y.

Officials in Erie County, N.Y., unanimously passed a resolution in opposition of remote control locomotives on July 15.

The effort to pass the resolution was spearheaded by members of BLET Division 421 (Buffalo, N.Y.). Brother Jim Louis, Local Chairman of Division 421, thanked everyone who helped with the resolution.

El Paso County, Texas

On July 19, El Paso County, Texas, adopted a remote control safety resolution.

El Paso County officials adopted the resolution unanimously, requesting that the Federal Railroad Administration "develop comprehensive regulations for the use of remote controlled locomotives, and that those regulations ensure the highest level of skill and qualification of persons operating remote controlled locomotives."

Larry Schneider, Legislative Representative of BLET Division 192 (El Paso), spent a great deal of time and effort to make sure the resolution was adopted.

He thanked El Paso County Commissioner Betti Flores (Precinct 2) for sponsoring the resolution and placing it on the County's agenda.

He also thanked the following BLET Brothers and Sisters for their support and assistance: Terry Briggs, Chairman of the BLET Texas State Legislative Board; Diane Ellis Executive Assistant; and Herb Yambra, Second Vice-Chairman of the Texas State Legislative Board.

He also thanked Tim Smith, Chairman of the BLET California State Legislative Board, "for his assistance and encouragement, pinch hitting for Terry while he was on vacation."

He recognized Becky Schneider, Grand International Auxiliary (GIA) First Vice-President/National Legislative Representative, for her editing and power point skills, and her "unwavering, continuous support and encouragement."

He also thanked Joe Grizich of BLET Division 192 for his computer expertise and hours of hard work putting together the "El Paso Power Point Presentation."

The following members were also recognized for their input and support: Richard Myers, Legislative Representative of Division 264; Joseph Martinez, Vice-President of Division 264; Rosemary Martinez, GIA El Paso Auxiliary 591; George Gomez, Local Chairman of Division 264; and Terry Murphy, a member of the Division192 Remote Control Committee.

"This would not have been possible without the help that each of these brothers and sisters contributed," Brother Schneider said. "I am in their debt."

More information regarding remote control trains and downloadable copies of the resolutions mentioned in this article are available on the BLET website at:

A remote control unit ran into a train and derailed eight cars in Evansville, Tenn., on January 26, 2004. At the time these pictures were taken, this was the second remote control accident at this spot in the past six months. According to BLET reports, the remote control operators in this area are not in a zone and they do not ride the leading unit. "They see there is no train in front of them and take off," the source said.




© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen