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3/6/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

More remote interest: Another Arkansas city raises LRC concerns, BLE says


Count North Little Rock, Ark., among the U.S. cities that would like to put the locomotive remote control (LRC) revolution on hold.



North Little Rock officials recently approved a "resolution opposing the use of remote control locomotives in the Union Pacific rail yards," according to a statement issued March 5 by Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.



City officials also would like the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct a review of the safety of remote control operations and develop comprehensive regulations, says BLE, which has called on FRA to do the same.



The North Little Rock City Council recently approved the measure, signed Feb. 24 by Mayor Patrick Hays.



North Little Rock is the second Arkansas city to address LRCs in recent weeks. On Feb. 18, the city of Pine Bluff passed a resolution calling for an LRC ban "until safety requirements have been improved," according to BLE, adding that Pine Bluff officials are concerned about LRCs role in grade-crossing safety, the threat of terrorism and hazardous material dangers. Baton Rouge and Shreveport, La.; Detroit and Marysville, Mich.; Boston; and Cleveland already passed or are considering similar resolutions.



In fall 2001, BLE rival United Transportation Union (UTU) entered an LRC implementation agreement with Class Is. BLE, which reached an LRC agreement with regional Montana Rail Link in 1999, believes BLE engineers should operate LRCs in Class I yards.



In mid-January, an arbitrator ruled that LRCs are not specifically reserved for operation by locomotive engineers, enabling UTU to operate remote controls per an agreement with National Carriers Conference Committee. BLE subsequently filed a dissent to the ruling.



"We sincerely believe this technology is a safety hazard to both railroad employees and the general public when remote-control trains are operated by employees who are lesser-trained and less qualified than locomotive engineers," said BLE International President Don Hahs in a prepared statement.












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