Passenger Rail News Briefs

BLE, other Amtrak unions call of strike

Amtrak unions called off a one-day strike set for October 3 to give a federal judge more time to determine if the walkout would violate the law, Reuters reported.

Lawyers for some 8,000 unionized Amtrak workers agreed to defer any job action until U.S. District Judge James Robertson sorts out labor law questions later in October.

Robertson brokered the agreement at a hearing on Amtrak's request to block the strike and set an October 20 hearing on the railroad's request for a preliminary injunction.

Six unions, including BLE, threatened to strike to put pressure on Congress, which is considering Amtrak's annual funding level. Lawmakers are considering far less in subsidies for fiscal year 2004 than the $1.8 billion the railroad has requested.

Congressional negotiators must still address a $1.34 billion spending proposal in the Senate and a $900 million package in the U.S. House of Representatives that Amtrak says would force a shutdown.

"We're trying to say, think about what will happen if there is no Amtrak," said Richard Edelman, the lead attorney for the unions that threatened to strike. "Let's see how the transportation system operates if there isn't one."

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

NTSB, BLE investigate Metra derailment

The National Transportation Safety Board and the BLE's Safety Task Force dispatched investigators to the scene of the derailment of Metra commuter train number 519 in Chicago on October 12. The following is an update of factual information collected by the Safety Board's team. Brother Carl W. Fields is representing the BLE.

The derailment occurred at 4:38 p.m. near 47th Street in Metra's Rock Island District (milepost 4.7). Both locomotives and all five passenger cars derailed. The train was carrying a three-man crew and approximately 375 passengers on a westbound trip from Chicago to Joliet. Although dozens of passengers were transported to local hospitals, there were no fatalities. Damage has been estimated to exceed $5 million.

The train's event recorders were recovered from both locomotive units and have been read out by Safety Board investigators. The train derailed at a recorded speed of about 67 mph as it traversed a crossover from main track 1 to main track 2. Maximum allowable speed for the crossover movement is 10 mph. The recorders will be transported to the NTSB's Washington headquarters for further analysis in its laboratories.

The train's dispatcher told investigators that he had established the train's intended route through the crossover once train 519 had commenced its trip. The train's engineer reports that he believed the signals were set for continued operation on track 1, with no crossover movement indicated. The maximum operating speed limit for passenger trains for a clear signal is 70 mph. The engineer has about 9 years of railroad experience, becoming an engineer in July of 2003.

(From NTSB news releases.)

Division 269 to host annual Dinner Dance

The members and officers of BLE Division 269 and the Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment are making preparations for the 36th annual Dinner Dance on November 15.

Retirees and long-time members are honored at the black-tie event.

LIRR General Chairman Bob Evers reports that approximately 16 retirees will be recognized as part of this year's festivities. ·



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers