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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

9/11/2003    Freight News

Rail News: Mechanical

Senators ask FRA to audit locomotive remote-control safety, UTU says

Per United Transportation Union's urging, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and member Fritz Hollings (D.-S.C.) recently sent a letter to Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter requesting an audit of railroads' locomotive remote-control (LRC) use and the technology's effects on safety, according to a news item on UTU's Web site.

The committee recognizes that "train movements controlled remotely by operators (conductors) on the ground are generally safer because the operator has a better view of the area around the train movement than does an engineer in the cab of a locomotive," the letter states.

Although some communities have passed resolutions banning LRC operations — last month, Mankato, Minn., became the 36th municipality to do so, according to Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers — local laws are preempted by federal rail-safety law. A thorough audit would resolve local concerns, the senators wrote.

FRA should conduct an audit within 18 months assessing LRC's impact on worker safety — including a comparison of accident, injury and fatality rates— and effects on grade crossings, hazardous-materials transportation and urban areas, committee members believe.

"We wanted to go one extra step to validate the data already out there," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr.

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