FBI warns terrorists may target trains; Hahs issues call for anti-terror meeting

Terrorists may target passenger trains, bridges; Crews asked to be vigilant

In light of warnings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding possible terrorist attacks on America's railroads, BLE International President Don Hahs issued an open letter to the nation's labor organizations, rail carriers, Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, asking for an immediate anti-terror summit to address these threats.

"It has been over a year since the tragic events of September 11 and in light of the warning issued on October 24, I think it is imperative that all parties meet to discuss preventative measures to protect the freight and passenger rail system," Hahs said. "I am proposing an immediate meeting for this purpose, so that labor, the carriers and the government can coordinate our safety efforts."

On October 24, the FBI issued a public warning that al Qaeda may be planning to attack passenger trains. While this warning was issued to the carriers on October 22, representatives of employees were not informed until the FBI's public announcement two days later.

"We received notice from one of our passenger rail General Chairmen expressing his outrage that he was not immediately informed of this threat and, as a result could not advise his membership properly," Hahs said. "We need a meeting with all parties so that we can all be informed. Our ability to do our jobs safely is at stake."

The public warning, the second from the government in the last two weeks, was based on interviews in mid-October of al Qaeda followers in custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the bureau said. The statement said the intelligence had not given details about the method, place or timing of a possible attack.

"BLE members want to do their part in protecting national security. We need to address this issue in order to ensure a safe workplace for our members, but also to ensure the safety of the traveling public," Hahs said. "Much attention has been given to the issue of airline safety, but little has been paid to the miles of rail system in our country."

Hahs encourages BLE members to remain extra vigilant in their duties and to immediately report any suspicious activities to the proper authorities.

"We are asking BLE members to stay on high alert," Hahs said.


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers