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4/22/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLE pickets BNSF's, UP's annual meetings to protest LRC operations


A little more than six weeks after picketing CSX Transportation's New Orleans board meeting, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers picketed Burlington Northern Santa Fe's annual shareholders meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, April 17 and, along with Teamsters members, Union Pacific Railroad's annual shareholders meeting in Salt Lake City April 19.
BLE officials believe the informational pickets bring attention to how Class Is are implementing and operating locomotive remote controls (LRCs), mostly by relying on train-crew members who aren't federally licensed or certified as locomotive engineers.
And picketing is about the only recourse BLE has: "We're limited in what we can do," said BLE International President Don Hahs in a late March interview with Progressive Railroading Editor Pat Foran, referring to a Jan. 14 federal-court injunction, which prevents BLE from striking Class Is over the LRC issue. Hahs indicated more pickets were likely.
As part of the informational protests, BLE members distributed flyers stating that the use of LRCs by non-qualified ground personnel would reduce productivity more than 30 percent.
BLE and Teamster members also held large banners and posters with various safety-related slogans.
BNSF plans soon to order its first 30 LRC units; the railroad also plans eventually to outfit between 300 and 500 locomotives with between 600 and 900 LRC devices. UP hasn't announced its LRC strategy.


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