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Locomotive remote controls are safe, AAR says

Recent claims by some rail labor unions that the use of locomotive remote controls (LRCs) have increased yard accidents are unsubstantiated, said Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger in a prepared statement.

"There is absolutely no data or evidence to support those who say the new technology compromises safety," he said. "In fact, experience and logic tell us just the opposite."

Widely used in Canada for more than 10 years, LRCs have proven to be safer than conventional technology based on recent statistics from Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway, AAR said.

Between 1998 and 2000, CPR's accident rate at yards using LRCs was one-third lower than facilities using conventional technology. Between 1997 and 2000, CN's accident rates attributed to human factors dropped about one-third at LRC-using yards compared with other facilities.

LRC technology offers features that enhance safety, AAR said. For example, LRCs provide continuous digital communication between a remote-control operator and onboard locomotive computer.

"[LRC] offers railroads and their employees both improved safety and greater efficiency," said Hamberger.

In 2002, U.S. Class Is began using LRCs in some yards after reaching an implementation agreement with United Transportation Union that includes operator training provisions.

Last week, an arbitrator upheld the agreement and rejected Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers' position that LRCs be assigned specifically to engineers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/15/2003