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GIA celebrates 110th anniversary at SWCM in El Paso

By Ruth E. Pillman Windham
GIA International President

Southwestern Convention Meeting Chairman Michael Ortega and Co-Chair Becky Schneider went all out to commemorate the 110th Anniversary of the Grand International Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers at the 62nd annual SWCM in El Paso, Texas.

A celebration luncheon was well attended by many friends and GIA and BLE members. The guest tables were beautifully decorated with center pieces featuring the GIA logo ­ the crescent and star.

GIA President Windham receives a flowered replica of the GIA logo in commemoration of the organization's 110th anniversary during the 1997 SWCM in El Paso, Texas. From left, SWCM Chairman Mike Ortega, GIA International President Ruth E. Pillman Windham, SWCM Co-Chair Becky Schneider, and BLE First Vice-President Ed Dubroski.

A beautiful, large floral arrangement, with a white ribbon commemorating the 110th anniversary, was centered in front of the speakers' rostrum at the head table.

Becky Schneider, SWCM co-chair and President of GIA Del Norte Auxiliary 6 in El Paso, presented me with a beautiful, hand-made replica of the GIA logo.

I gave a brief summary of the history of the GIA. In the absence of President Monin, BLE First Vice-President Edward Dubroski addressed the group and thanked the GIA for their past and present participation and challenged our organization to grow and continue to support the BLE.

On behalf of the GIA, I want to thank the 62nd annual Southwestern Convention for the celebration and tribute paid to the Grand International Auxiliary. It was indeed a happy 110th celebration. May we keep going and going and going! ·


'Frugal organization'

Monin, Advisory Board members miss division parties to save money

In the midst of the holiday season, members of the BLE's Advisory Board have reduced travel expenses to deal with the increased cost of running a union.

The immediate impact during the month of December is reduced Advisory Board attendance at holiday parties sponsored by the various BLE divisions and General Committees of Adjustment.

"I have limited myself to two Christmas parties this year, and expect the union's other executive officers to follow suit," President Clarence Monin said. "It's leadership by example.

"We get invited to so many different functions that it's hard to attend them all, even though we'd like to."

First Vice-President Ed Dubroski said he will have to be more selective in his December travels.

"We get invited to about 50 different Christmas parties but can only go to so many," he said. "We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but it's the price we have to pay to run a more frugal organization."

It is hoped the holiday cost-cutting measures will strengthen the BLE's financial status.

"A plane ticket here and a hotel room stay there adds up quickly," Monin said.

"We've had some costly and unexpected expenditures this year so we've got to cut back. We're not broke now and we're going to stay that way."

In the past, the BLE has had trouble balancing the books in years following International Conventions. It has now taken more than a year to cover debts incurred at the 1996 International Convention in Detroit.

Positive train separation needed

NTSB issues final report on fatal Silver Spring crash

The National Transportation Safety Board again emphasized the need for positive train separation in its final report on the fatal Feb. 16, 1996 accident involving MARC and Amtrak passenger trains.

Twenty-six people were hurt and 11 killed in the head-on collision in Silver Spring, Md. Included in the dead was BLE Member Ricky Orr.

In its findings, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration "require the implementation of positive train separation control systems for all trains where commuter and intercity passenger railroads operate."

The NTSB also recommended that the FRA "require, in the interim of a positive train separation control system being available, the installation of cab signals, automatic train stop, automatic train control, or other similar redundant systems for all trains where commuter and intercity passenger railroads operate."

Positive train separation uses satellite, track-side transponder and computer technology to automatically stop a train in case of human error.

In its report, the NTSB gave multiple reasons as causes of the accident. The report reads as follows:

"The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the apparent failure of the engineer and the traincrew because of multiple distractions to operate MARC train 286 according to signal indications and the failure of the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the CSX Transportation, Inc. to ensure that a comprehensive human factors analysis for the Brunswick Line signal modifications was conducted to identify potential sources of human error and to provide a redundant safety system that could compensate for human error.

"Contributing to the accident was the lack of comprehensive safety oversight on the CSX Transportation Inc./ Maryland Commuter system to ensure the safety of the commuting public. Contributing to the severity of the accident and the loss of life was the lack of appropriate regulations to ensure adequate emergency egress features on the railroad passenger cars."

The NTSB was critical of the FRA for dragging its feet on implementation of PTS technology.

"A fully implemented positive train separation control system would have prevented this accident by recognizing that MARC train 286 was not being operated within allowable parameters, based on other authorized train operations, and would have stopped the train before it could enter into the unauthorized track area."

The NTSB also criticized the FRA and CSX for not conducting effective safety reviews of the track's signal system.

"Had the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration required CSX Transportation Inc. to perform a total signal system review of the proposed signal changes that included a human factors analysis within a comprehensive failure modes and effects analysis, this accident may have been prevented." ·


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