BLET bill will help create rail expansion in New Hampshire

The governor of New Hampshire signed a BLET-backed measure on July 27 that will help create railroad jobs and revitalize freight and passenger rail service in the state.

Governor Lynch's signing of New Hampshire Senate Bill 75 at Nashua City Hall in Nashua, N.H., establishes the New Hampshire Rail Authority Board, which will make it easier for railroad companies to make inroads in New Hampshire while creating new job opportunities for BLET members.

Establishing viable railroads would help spur economic growth in the state, Governor Lynch said. Also, "It will help reduce congestion on our roads, improving public safety and reducing air pollution."

The measure establishes a New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority that will have responsibility for developing and providing commuter rail and related rail transportation services in New Hampshire. The measure should help state lawmakers achieve a major rail transportation goal, which is the establishment of a high speed rail corridor between Boston and Montreal, via New Hampshire and Vermont.

According to William Remington, Legislative Representative of BLET Division 191 in Lunenburg, Mass., rail service in New Hampshire - with the exception of two Amtrak trains the Downeaster and Vermonter - is currently limited to tourist trains and a few shortline railroads.

"It was time for a change and we pushed for it," said Remington, who is also 3rd Vice Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board.

The BLET, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, worked for months to secure passage of the measure through the New Hampshire legislature.

The Senate bill, SB-75 (New Hampshire Rail Authority Board), passed by a vote of 189-120 and was signed by Governor Lynch on July 27, 2007. It became effective the same day. The House bill, HB-311 (Committee to Review Liability Issues for Commuter Rail Operations), was passed by a vote of 17-0.

Also, as part of the bill, Governor Lynch will appoint three board members - with rail experience - to the Rail Transit Authority. Their job will be to seek funding and open corridors that would bring commuter rail into the state, while protecting the interest of existing communities.

Dan Lauzon, 1st Vice Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board, and Wayne Gagne, a member of BLET Division 57 (Boston), played key rolls in testifying and furthering the legislation. Brother Remington said that George Newman, Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board, and Mike Twombly, Springfield Terminal-Delaware & Hudson General Chairman, were also extremely supportive and continually lent assistance throughout the process.

Also playing a large role was Dennis Caza, a D.R.I.V.E. Field Representative from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a member of Teamsters Local 633.

"It is a great experience working with Brother Caza and look forward in working with him and the Teamsters again," Brother Remington said.

Brother Gagne also serves as Chairman of the New Hampshire Commuter Rail Advisory Committee. Brother Remington is the founder and first president of the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association. He is also Legislative Representative of the New Hampshire Commuter Rail Advisory Committee and committee member of the New Hampshire Operation Life Saver.



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen